Simone Biles was arguably the athlete to watch at Tokyo 2020. The 24-year-old artistic gymnast hogged the spotlight at the last Olympic Games held in Río de Janeiro, winning five medals, four golds and a bronze, and without the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps this year, she was seen as the face of the tournament.
However, the sports community was shocked over the last few days after Biles brought to surface a subject that has been taboo for a long time - mental health. Behind the fame, success, and accolades, athletes can be often dealing with a lot of pressure, and Simone Biles made it clear she needed to prioritize her mental well-being before competing.
From the very first minute in which she set foot in Tokyo, the cameras, headlines, and expectations were all over her as she was heavily favored to become an Olympic champion again and break multiple records. However, Biles won't be competing at the individual all-around final and is in doubt for next week's events.
What happened to Simone Biles?
Despite being the undisputed favorite to be dominating on Thursday's individual all-around final at the Olympics, Simone Biles removed herself from the event. Only one day before, she had also withdrawn from the team all-around final for the same reason - focusing on her mental health.
"After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health," the USA Gymnastics' statement read. "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."
Simone Biles came into the Summer Olympics carrying loads of expectations on her shoulders but they proved costly. "We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do," she said after pulling out from the team final. "I had to do what's right for me and not jeopardize my health and well-being."
That immediately raised concerns about her participation in the individual all-around competition, which began to seem unlikely. Therefore, the USA Team's statement confirming her withdrawal from Thursday's events didn't come as a surprise.
Olympics events in which Simone Biles can still compete
Despite missing the individual all-around final, Simone Biles is still qualified for four more events next week and her participation would depend on how she feels over the next few days.
The USA Gymnastics have stated she will continue to be evaluated daily before determining whether or not she will compete in next week's finals. As of now, Simone Biles has four events ahead of her: the vault, floor, uneven bars, and beam events. However, both the superstar gymast and the USA Team will do what's right, which is prioritizing her mental well-being, embracing a topic that should raise awareness in the sports world.