Michelle Obama Leads Support For Simone Biles Over Decision To Prioritise Her Mental Health At Olympics

Michelle Obama has led support for US gymnast Simone Biles after she pulled out of the women’s team final at the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health reasons.

The athlete stepped back from the competition after the US team’s first rotation on vault on Tuesday, and has since decided to withdraw from Thursday’s women’s all-around final. 

In an interview with reporters after Team USA took home the silver medal, Simone said: “Whenever you get in a high-stress situation, you kind of freak out. I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and well-being.

“We have to protect our body and our mind,” she added. “It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head.”

LOIC VENANCE via Getty Images

USA’s Simone Biles waits for the final results of the artistic gymnastics women’s team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

The former First Lady was among those to show their support for Simone online, tweeting: “Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily @Simone_Biles, we are proud of you and we are rooting for you. Congratulations on the the silver medal, Team @USA!”

BBC Sports presenter Gary Lineker also tweeted on Wednesday: “As a former sportsperson that was fortunate enough to not suffer with mental health issues, it’s hard to comprehend what it must be like for those that do.

“For those that have never participated in elite level sport, it must be even harder to understand… you’d have thought.”

There were many others who voiced their support of Simone on Twitter…

Simone’s teammate Sunisa Lee also said: “We were all so stressed. We honestly didn’t know in that moment. She’s freaking Simone Biles. She carries the team basically. When we kind of had to step up to the plate and do what we had to do, it was very hard and stressful. But I’m very proud of us because we did that.”

On replacing Simone, USA Gymnastics’ Jordan Chiles added: “That was a huge thing. When I was told that I had to put my grips on, I was just like O-M-G. Those were definitely some big shoes that I had to fill and I’m very happy that I was able to do that.

“Yes, she is the GOAT (‘Greatest Of All Time’). I was able to show the world that not only can you fill amazing people’s shoes but we also did this together as well.”

USA Gymnastics said Simone is yet to decide whether to withdraw from her four individual finals, which are scheduled to take place next week.

In a statement, USA Gymnastics said: “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition.

“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

Simone won four gold medals in Rio in 2016 and was aiming to become the first gymnast to retain a female all-around title at the Games since Vera Caslavska in 1968.

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