The moment that Simone Biles delivered the shock news of her Olympic team final withdrawal to her devastated teammates has been caught on camera – revealing how the gymnast urged her fellow athletes to carry on in her stead, telling them to ‘go and kick a**’ without her.
Simone, 24, stunned spectators and competitors alike in Tokyo on Tuesday when she flubbed her vault in the opening minutes of the competition, and then announced her withdrawal just moments later – having been expected to lead Team USA to its third consecutive gold medal win.
Footage from inside the arena shows the defending all-around champion delivering the news to her fellow gymnasts, Jordan Chiles, 20, Sunisa Lee, 18, and Grace McCallum, 18 – who were left reeling by the news, not least because they were then forced to step up and fill her shoes in the remaining three events.
Following her shock error on vault – during which she bailed on a skill mid-way through and only completed one-and-a-half twists instead of the two-and-a-half she was supposed to execute – Simone pulled her coach, Cecile Landi to one side, before heading over to speak to her teammates.
News: Video from inside the Olympic gymnastics arena captured the moment that Simone Biles told her teammates she was withdrawing from the final
Shock: Her teammates, Sunisa Lee, 18, Grace McCallum, 18, and Jordan Chiles, 20, seemed stunned by the news – and they quickly voiced their fear about going on without her
Simone was caught on camera telling them that she was ‘sorry’, but insisting that they were ‘going to do great’ because they had ‘been training for this their whole lives’.
‘Look, you guys go out there and do what you’re trained to do,’ she said. ‘It is what it is. I’m sorry, I love you guys, but you’re going to be just fine.’
Speaking about the moment on NBC, Today host Hoda Kotb revealed that the trio was left close to tears after Simone delivered the news – and they were seen on camera reeling from her announcement, before seemingly voicing their fears about carrying on the competition without her – as well as expressing concern for her wellbeing.
Insisting that she would ‘be fine’, the sporting superstar then pulled each of her teammates into a hug, before reassuring them that they would be ‘fine’ without her.
‘You guys have trained your whole entire lives for this, it’s fine,’ she insisted, before urging them to focus on their own performances and not worry about her.
‘I’ve been to an Olympics, I’ll be fine, this is your first,’ she continued. ‘Go out there and kick a**, OK?’
In Simone’s absence, two of her teammates were forced to step in and take her place in the uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise events, with Jordan taking on the first two, while Suni filled her spot on the floor.
Following the first event – vault – Team USA was trailing the Russian Olympic Committee by a fairly large margin, which was not helped by Simone’s uncharacteristically low score of 13.766.
They managed to close the gap by putting up impressive performance on both the uneven bars and the balance beam – narrowing Russia’s lead to just a few tenths of a point – but their hopes of overtaking their rivals came crashing down in the final moments of the competition when Jordan suffered a fall on the floor exercise.
The US ended up finishing more than three points behind the Russian gymnasts, who surged to victory with a final score of 169.528 over their rivals’ end result of 166.096.
Heartbreaking: Simone was caught on camera telling them that she was ‘sorry’, but insisting that they were ‘going to do great’ because they had ‘been training for this their whole lives’
Encouragement: ‘Look, you guys go out there and do what you’re trained to do,’ she continued. ‘It is what it is. I’m sorry, I love you guys, but you’re going to be just fine’
Somber: Simone reassured her teammates that she was going to ‘be fine’ after they expressed concerns about her wellbeing
Following the end of the team final, Simone took to Instagram to praise her teammates ‘bravery’, while thanking them for ‘stepping up when she couldn’t’.
‘I’m SO proud of these girls right here,’ she wrote, while sharing an image of the four-woman squad proudly posing with their silver medals.
‘You girls are incredibly brave & talented! I’ll forever be inspired by your determination to not give up and to fight through adversity!
‘They stepped up when I couldn’t. thanks for being there for me and having my back! forever love y’all.’
During a post-event press conference, Simone admitted that she felt as if she had ‘robbed’ her teammates of a real shot at the gold after making a severe error during her vault, which resulted in an unusually low score – allowing Russia to take the early lead.
‘It’s really unfortunate to have a score like that go up there for the team,’ she said. ‘I feel I robbed them… We could have been a little bit higher in the rankings.
‘I didn’t do my job. They came out and they stepped up. They did what they needed to do.’
Shortly after the team final came to a close, Simone took to Instagram to praise her teammates for ‘fighting through adversity’ and ‘stepping up when she couldn’t’
Despite the devastating upset, Simone and her teammates, Jordan (left), Grace (center right), and Sunisa (right), were all smiles as they received their silver medals
Simone’s shock withdrawal came just moments after she was seen making her way out of the arena with her coach and a member of the medical staff – sparking fears that she had sustained an injury during her wobbly vault landing.
However, upon the announcement of her withdrawal from the competition, it was revealed that Simone was not injured – and she later revealed that she had made the decision out of a need to ‘focus on her mental health’ and out of fear that she could cost her teammates their shot at winning a medal in the competition.
She thanked Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee, and Jordan Chiles for ‘having her back’, saying that she was ‘inspired by their determination’
‘To focus on my wellbeing,’ she told reporters of her reasons for pulling out of the competition following a shock flub on the vault, echoing the statement issued by tennis pro Naomi Osaka, 23, when she pulled out of the French Open earlier this year because of her own mental health struggles.
Shrugging, Simone added: ‘And you know, there’s more to life than just gymnastics.
‘It is very unfortunate that it has to happen at this stage because I definitely wanted this Olympics to go a little bit better but again, we’ll take it one day at a time and we’re going to see how the rest goes.’
It is currently unclear whether Simone will compete in the five individual event finals, which begin on Thursday with the all-around competition.
The gymnast also insisted that her decision to pull out of the competition after just one event – when she was due to take part in all four – was made, in part, to help her team, saying that she ‘didn’t want to risk the team medal’ with her ‘screw up’.
Simone’s decision to pull out of the competition came just moments after she suffered a very uncharacteristic stumble on the vault
The 24-year-old – who had been expected to lead the US to gold in the team event – withdrew from the lineup after flubbing her vault in the opening minutes of the team final
‘I thought it was best that these girls took over the job which they absolutely did,’ she continued, saying that the shock upset made them ‘stronger’ as a team. ‘They are Olympic silver medalists now and they should be really proud of themselves now for how well they did last minute.’
Despite claiming a silver medal alongside her teammates, who were left on the verge of tears when Simone withdrew, the sporting superstar – who is widely known as the GOAT thanks to her impressive list of accolades – insisted the second-place finish was ‘nothing to do with her’, instead giving full credit to her fellow Team USA athletes, Jordan, Sunisa, and Grace.
‘This medal is all of them and the coaches and nothing to do with me,’ she said.
She added: ‘I have to focus on my mental health. I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now… we have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.’
She admitted that her confidence has taken a serious knock as a result of her mental health issues, confessing: ‘I don’t trust myself as much anymore… maybe it’s getting older. There were a couple of days when everybody tweets you and you feel the weight of the world.
‘We’re not just athletes, we’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back. ‘I didn´t want to go out and do something stupid and get hurt. ‘I feel like a lot of athletes speaking up has really helped. It’s so big, it´s the Olympic Games, at the end of the day we don´t want to be carried out of there on a stretcher.
‘You have to be there 100 per cent or 120 per cent or you’re going to hurt yourself.’