Tokyo, Japan – Olympic gymnast Simone Biles announced Wednesday morning that she will not be competing in this Thursday’s individual all around finals. The announcement comes less than a day after Biles withdrew from the team all around finals citing issues of mental health and concerns about how they might impact her and her team if she were to compete.
A statement from USA Gymnastics said, “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition.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 prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”
Biles was overwhelmingly favorited to win the individual all around competition, of which she is the reigning champion. She has not yet stated if she will participate in the remaining finals events that will take place next week.
Her decision to withdraw has garnered significant attention in the US and around the world and is now at the forefront of a growing discussion about mental health in sports. In revealing her struggles, Biles joins a list of prominent athletes who have spoken up about the impacts that performing on the world’s biggest stages can have on a person’s mental and emotional state.
“I say put mental health first,” Biles said. “Because if you don’t, then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to. So it’s OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself, because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are — rather than just battle through it.”
Biles was raised in Spring, Texas where she first tried gymnastics at age six. After instructors encouraged her to continue with the sport, she began training at Bannon’s Gymnastix in north Houston. Biles currently trains at World Champions Centre in Spring, an artistic gymnastics academy owned by her family that was built for her in 2014.