She has tied numerous world records and set a new American record for most gold medals in gymnastics at a single Olympics Games (in Rio 2016). But although the gymnast has become a household name, Simone Biles is still human.
On July 27, following a single rotation at the Tokyo Olympics, the superstar withdrew from the competition. USA Gymnastics (USAG) confirmed this, saying the decision was due to a medical issue and that Biles would be “assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”
Biles spoke at a press conference after the event and stated that she was not injured. Rather, she shared that she wasn’t in the right headspace and felt her performance would jeopardize the team’s chances for a medal. She gave more details to Hoda Kotb in an interview on Today.
“Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape,” she revealed to Kotb. “Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat, so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’ll see.”
As word spread, celebrities took to social media to show their support. Actors, journalists, sports stars and politicians shared uplifting messages regarding Biles’ decision to prioritize her mental health.
Kotb took to Twitter to say that Biles had already won, calling the gymnast “a class act.”
Someone said it best. @Simone_Biles already won. She is a class act. Withdrew from team competion after vault… stayed and cheered on her teammates… got them chalk for their hands.. encouraged.. hugged them. She already won. Congrats on the silver medal! @TeamUSA @USAGym
— Hoda Kotb (@hodakotb) July 27, 2021
Canadian actress Zoie Palmer gave “a huge shout out” to Biles for knowing what she needed and showing others the importance of self-care.
A huge shout out to @Simone_Biles for knowing exactly what she needed to do for herself and for showing us all that even if you’re in front of the whole world, it’s absolute okay and necessary to take care of yourself first!
— Zoie palmer (@ZoiePalmer) July 27, 2021
Arianna Huffington called Biles an “amazing role model” for her focus on mental health.
Thank you @Simone_Biles — not just for being an amazing athlete but an amazing role model teaching us all how important it is to acknowledge when we need to focus on our mental health.#simonebiles #olympics #athlete #gymnastics #TeamUSA #MentalHealthAwareness pic.twitter.com/Kmj9a8F4lp
— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) July 27, 2021
Actress Kerry Washington also thanked Biles.
“It takes the strength, power and bravery of a CHAMPION to put your health first,” she tweeted. “@Simone_Biles, we love you.”
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) July 27, 2021
Many former Olympians spoke out in support of Biles, as well. Tennis player Billie Jean King said that the gymnast’s decision “showed true leadership.”
I’ve been thinking of #SimoneBiles all day. So very sorry she wasn’t feeling her best.
She showed true leadership in taking herself out of competition in order for her team to have a chance to medal. Sending her and the team love & support.
Congratulations to #TeamUSA! 🥈
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) July 27, 2021
Figure skater Adam Rippon showed empathy, stating, “It [is] easy to forget she’s still human.”
I can't imagine the pressure Simone has been feeling. Sending her SO much love. It easy to forget she's still human. WE LOVE YOU.
— Adam Rippon (@AdamRippon) July 27, 2021
Florida Senator Shevrin Jones said that Biles doesn’t owe any explanations.
“She had me at ‘I need a break,'” he tweeted. “I wish more people would normalize making their #mentalhealth a priority.”
— Shevrin “Shev” Jones (@ShevrinJones) July 27, 2021
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois tweeted that Biles is a living legend, “but she’s also a human being.”
“Today Simone made likely one of the hardest and most courageous decisions of her life,” he added. “She is an inspiration to us all.”
.@Simone_Biles is already the most decorated gymnast in American history. She’s a living legend—but she's also a human being.
Today Simone made likely one of the hardest and most courageous decisions of her life. She is an inspiration to us all. pic.twitter.com/4YPVTGrop2
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) July 27, 2021
“What @Simone_Biles did in Tokyo took more strength and courage than any of her gold medals ever asked of her,” tweeted Calm. “Every time a ‘superhuman’ athlete acknowledges their humanity and normalizes putting mental health first, we all benefit.”
What @Simone_Biles did in Tokyo took more strength and courage than any of her gold medals ever asked of her.
This is bigger than sports.
Every time a “superhuman” athlete acknowledges their humanity and normalizes putting mental health first, we all benefit. pic.twitter.com/LQjTksqeGx
— Calm (@calm) July 27, 2021
It’s good to see so much support of Biles after her brave action. The U.S.A. women’s team will continue to compete in Olympic events through Tuesday, Aug. 3.