Her words weren’t just for herself, but for her teammates too.
Being one of the strongest athletes in Olympic history may be an incredible achievement, but it comes with a lot of mental and physical pressure — even if you’re Simone Biles. On Tuesday, July 27, the world-class gymnast withdrew from the Olympic Women’s Team Finals in a decision came as a shock to people across America. However, Simone Biles' quote after exiting the team finals are bittersweet, and show just how grateful she is toward her teammates.
Her comments were shared via a July 27 post on Instagram from Inside Gymnastics. “After the performance that I did, I didn’t want to go into any other events second-guessing myself. I thought it was better if I took a step back and to let these girls go out there and let them do the job,” Biles stated. “Tonight, they get a gold medal from me. They never gave up.” As the stakes in the Olympic women’s gymnastics competition grew ever higher, the world focused its gaze on Biles as Team U.S.A.’s star. The immense amount of pressure to be successful was something Biles increasingly struggled with as the games pressed forward, per The New York Times. She pulled out of the team finals, noting how she wasn’t in the right mental place to perform.
Biles is known for performing uniquely difficult (and dangerous) maneuvers that no one but her can pull off. If Biles wasn’t in the right mindset to perform, but did so anyway, she wouldn’t just be at risk of losing a few points — she’d be at risk of sustaining a serious injury. In fact, just before her Tuesday vault routine, when she got “lost in the air,” Biles admitted that although she had been trying to rise above the pressure and had been “fighting all those demons,” the stress was getting to her.
When she performed her vault routine during the competition’s first rotation, she failed to complete the full maneuver and stumbled on her landing, per NBC Sports. This kind of mishap is uncharacteristic for the world-class gymnast, but Biles, usually confident, appeared visibly nervous before her jump and clearly shaken after. After withdrawing, she stated that she absolutely made the best decision for herself and her mental health. “At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me,” she said, per The New York Times. “It just sucks that it happened at the Olympic Games,” she added.
Even with one team member out, Team USA still accomplished an incredible feat by finishing with a score of 166.096, earning themselves a silver medal and a spot on the podium. While Biles is qualified to compete in the individual all-around finals, she’s stated that she’ll make decisions on whether or not to compete in those events on a case-by-case basis, per USA Today. For now, she’s committed to focusing on what’s most important: herself.
“I have to put my pride aside,” she told reporters. “I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.”