It’s been a brutal five days for the top female athletes at the Olympics. I’ll admit to paying closer attention to Olympic tennis more than anything else, so I’m mostly focused on the fact that Ash Barty (the top seed) lost first round in singles, Aryna Sabalenka (the third seed) lost in a rough three-setter in the second round, and Naomi Osaka (the second seed) lost in 67 minutes in her third round last night. There are still great players in the draw though and no one is about to “fluke” a medal.
Alongside all of the tennis drama on the women’s side, everything has seemed a little bit “off” with Team USA’s female gymnasts. Sunday night, I watched some of Team USA’s vaults and Simone Biles just seemed mega-stressed and downright weary. The American women are now trailing the Russians (ROC) in gymnastics scores and… Simone Biles just pulled out.
Simone Biles walked off the competition floor with the team’s medical trainer following her first routine of the women’s team final on Tuesday. The decorated gymnast, 24, exited the area moments after she bailed on her planned Amanar vault for an easier one and posted a 13.766, the lowest vault score of her Olympics career.
For the uneven bars, the U.S. team’s second apparatus, reserve Jordan Chiles replaced Biles. According to the official scoreboard as of now, Biles is being rested for the other three apparatuses. NBC announced during the broadcast that Biles had pulled out of the rest of the finals. Chiles, Suni Lee and Grace McCallum will continue on with the competition.
In Tokyo, Biles, the reigning Olympic all-around champion, was on track to compete for six gold medals after making the event finals in vault, floor, bars and beam.
From what I saw of the gymnastics, it wasn’t just stress or pressure, although I’m sure all of that has been weighing on Simone too. I think she’s physically injured. But that’s not what Team USA’s people are saying – they aren’t giving an explanation for the withdrawal other than “a mental issue” and they’re just asking people to give Simone some space. Something else I keep thinking about with so many of these athletes: they don’t have their full teams or their families around them. Their families had to stay home and there are limits to how many team members can be brought to the Olympics.
The official statement and unofficial statements:
“Physically she is fine,” Simone Biles’ coach writes to NBC. “But she is done for tonight”
— Chris Jansing (@ChrisJansing) July 27, 2021
Official statement: "Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions."
Thinking of you, Simone! pic.twitter.com/QA1GYHwWTv
— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) July 27, 2021
NBC reports that Simone Biles withdrawal is not due to injury but another issue. We will report more details as we have them. Whatever the case, everyone should respect the situation and let her have her space.
— Inside Gymnastics (@InsideGym) July 27, 2021
A Team USA coach said that Simone Biles' exit from the gymnastics team event "is not injury related." Coach said it is a "mental issue she is having," per NBC broadcast.
— Al Butler (@ALaboutSports) July 27, 2021
Photos courtesy of Getty.