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Olympian Biles Backs Out of Team Final for Mental Health, Teammates Respond with Support and Silver Medal


Simone Biles, the best gymnast to ever strap on a leotard for the United States
and widely considered to be the sport’s Greatest of All Time, was feeling immense pressure to perform going into this year’s Olympic Games.
In an Instagram post following Monday’s preliminary rounds, the 24-year-old wrote of her mindset going into the team finals, "it wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke!"

Unfortunately for Team USA, for the first time in her lauded career, Biles buckled a bit under the gravity of the extraordinary expectations her unique talent has set for her and pulled out of the team finals Tuesday night.

USA Gymnastics released a statement Tuesday morning citing medical reasons for her decision. “Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue,” it read. “She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”

Biles, who left the floor initially with a trainer following a vault attempt that saw her returned with her leg wrap after treatment, said her ailment was not a physical one and later explained in a tearful press conference that she pulled out because of her mental health.

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s age, but I'm a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I'm also not having as much fun, and I know that”—she began to cry—"this Olympic Games I wanted to do it for myself, and I was still doing it for other people, so that just hurts my heart badly, that doing what I love has been taken away.”

According to Biles her decision was met with support from coaches and teammates, and while it was not able to capture its third-straight gold medal, Team USA, cheered on by its sidelined star would not be denied the podium. The remaining athletes earned silver and sincere praise from Biles, who went to social media to celebrate the victory

“I’m SO proud of these girls right here. You girls are incredibly brave & talented!,” she wrote on Instagram.  “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.”

The star will take a mental health day Wednesday, and it is unknown if she will return to compete in the five remaining events she is qualified for: she still has a shot at gold in balance beam, floor exercise, uneven bars, vault, as well as an opportunity to reclaim the medal for all-around champion. In addition to being named best all-around gymnast at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janerio, Biles is the defending champion in vault and floor exercise and won bronze on the balance beam.

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