US gymnast Simone Biles thanked her coaches and teammates for sticking by her side after she decided to withdraw from the Olympics because her “mind and body were simply not in sync.”
Biles started a heated debate online about athletes’ mental health after she withdrew from the final day of team competition earlier this week. The heavily favored Team USA won the silver medal in the team finals. Russia took the gold.
Biles shared photos on Instagram of her coaches supporting her on the sidelines of the Tokyo Games.
“Forever thankful to have such an amazing support system by my side,” she wrote.
Simone Biles revealed Friday she was suffering from “twisties” and worried about her safety, ESPN said. Twisties are a dangerous phenomenon where gymnasts lose the ability to orient their bodies during aerial acrobatics. This was on display when Biles faltered on her final vault before withdrawing.
“Literally cannot tell up from down,” she said, according to ESPN. “It’s the craziest feeling ever. Not having an inch of control over your body. What’s even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air I also have NO idea how I’m going to land, or what I’m going to land on. Head/hands/feet/back.
“I also have no idea how I landed on my feet on that vault because if you look at the pictures and my eyes you can see how confused I am as to where I am in the air. Thankfully I landed safe enough but I also don’t think some of you realize I was supposed to do a 2½ and I only completed 1½ twists before it looks like I got shot out of the air.”
Other Athletes Support Simone Biles Decision
Several other athletes have defended Biles’ decision to withdraw, saying fans need to understand the importance of mental health in competition.
“I think it’s important that we work on our mental state. As you’ve seen with Simone Biles, I think there needs to be more conversation around that. We as athletes are often put on a pedestal that we’re not — that we’re beyond any mental hindrances or clutter. And the only time that mental health often gets talked about is when it’s under the conversation of depression. I didn’t have any depression. But I have a ton of respect for people who speak out in those situations,” Rodgers said, according to a Yahoo Sports article.
Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian in American history, passionately defended Biles. He said fans need to understand the “weight of gold,” and he added that “it’s OK not to be OK.”
“We’re humans. Right? We’re human beings. Nobody is perfect,” he told Mike Tirico, Sporting News reported. “So, yes, it is OK to not be OK. It is OK to go through ups and downs and emotional roller coasters, you know. But I think the biggest thing is, we all need to ask for help sometimes too when we go through those times. You know, for me, I can personally, it was something that was very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help. I felt like I was carrying, as Simone said, the weight of the world on your shoulders. So, yeah, it’s a tough situation.”