American Simone Biles, the biggest name in world of women’s gymnastics, caused quite a stir by withdrawing from the team event final following an error on vault which led to a low score – sparking off speculation of mental health issues.
After the formidable US finished second to the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) – the four-time Olympic champion confirmed her shock exit was due to her psychological state.
“I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and my wellbeing,” Biles said with her teammates gathered beside her.
“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to, and I don’t know if it’s age. I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics,” she admitted, betraying a performance anxiety.
“I feel like I’m also not having as much fun, and I know that this Olympic Games, I wanted it to be for myself,” she said, as she began to cry and she was comforted by her teammates.
“It just sucks that it happens here at the Olympics Games. With the year that it’s been, I’m really not surprised the way it played out.”
The USA team competed with only three gymnasts in the final and finished second to the team from Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). “Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue,” a statement from USA Gymnastics said earlier on Tuesday.
“She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions,” added USA Gymnastics in the statement, which contradicted with NBC announcer John Roethlisberger’s comment during the telecast that network personnel had been told by a team coach or coaches that Biles’ issues were mental rather than physical.
The 24-year-old, winner of four gold medals in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, was supposed to execute a Yurchenko vault with two-and-a-half twists, but could perform only one-and-a-half twists. Her knees buckled on the landing although she avoided falling on the ground.
Her score of 13.766 is among the lowest she has got in years.
Biles recently spoke about feeling intense pressure to succeed in Tokyo and she has figured prominently in NBC’s promotions of the Tokyo Games. She also has said she is still dealing with trust issues regarding USA Gymnastics after having been sexually abused by former national team doctor Lawrence Nassar, who abused hundreds of women and girls before he was sentenced to prison.
Biles stayed on the floor with the team and after the competition was seen talking to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, before the medal ceremony.
– With inputs from agencies