Simone Biles also withdrew from the vault & uneven bar competitions

2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

You know what I admire? The way Simone Biles has handled her withdrawal from Olympic gymnastic competition. Shortly after she withdrew from group competition last week, she went into a press conference and did a full disclosure on what was going on. She continued to talk about what’s happening to her with interviews on NBC and every other outlet. She identified the biggest issue keeping her from competing: the twisties, where a gymnast loses their spatial awareness and no longer knows where they are mid-air. For Simone, it’s not *just* that she was overstressed and pressured. That stress and pressure led to a gymnast’s worst nightmare, one which could have left Simone severely injured or paralyzed if she had tried to continue. Days after Simone withdrew from the group competition, she withdrew from the all-around competition, which left an opening for her American teammate Sunisa Lee to win gold. And now Simone has withdrawn from two more competitions:

Simone Biles has withdrawn from two more women’s gymnastics event finals in the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Biles, 24, will no longer compete in Sunday’s vault and uneven bars finals, USA Gymnastics announced in a statement on Saturday.

“Today, after further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars. She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam,” the statement read. “MyKayla Skinner, who had the fourth-highest score in vault during qualifications, will compete in vault finals for the U.S. alongside Jade Carey, who finished with the second-highest score.”

Had she competed on Sunday, Biles could have attempted the Yurchenko double pike in Olympic competition and would’ve been able to defend her title from the 2016 Rio Games.

Her decision to withdraw comes days after she unexpectedly bowed out of the women’s gymnastics team final on Tuesday night, partway through the competition, and then said she would not appear in Thursday’s individual all-around final. Biles cited both her mental health — in particular, the rattling stress of this particular competition, in which she was the face of Team USA — and the sudden onset of what she called the “twisties,” when she lost her ability to sense her body move in the air.

“For anyone saying I quit. I didn’t quit, my mind & body are simply not in sync as you can see here,” Biles wrote on social media on Thursday. “I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface nor do I have to explain why I put health first.”

[From People]

She doesn’t have to explain why she’s putting her health first, but I’m actually glad she is explaining and disclosing what’s happening. That is *also* helping people, and helping people understand how dangerous it is for athletes to compete when their minds and bodies are not in sync, and how delicate it all is. I also think it’s incredible that she’s stuck around to cheer for her teammates and fuss over them like a den mother. She’s the team leader, regardless, and she’s giving all of her teammates the support they need to get through the competition. What an opportunity for MyKayla Skinner – and just this morning (EST) Skinner won the silver medal in vault!

Tokyo 2020 - Gymnastics

2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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49 Responses to “Simone Biles also withdrew from the vault & uneven bar competitions”

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  1. local russian hill says:

    to think at her young age, she’s communicating so well about a difficult situation, is inspiring.

    • Jules says:

      I agree, she has nerves of steel to still show up and cheer on her team, and educate us on what is going on with her. She has shown us time and again what she is capable of in gymnastics, this must be heartbreaking for her. Truly inspiring.

    • teaholic says:

      I hope I never NEED as much courage as this young woman HAS.

  2. Merricat says:

    Nothing but respect and admiration for Simone.

  3. harla says:

    I will admit to being disappointed at not seeing Simone compete, her gymnastics are other-wordly, but I am so proud that she is putting her health first and foremost and by doing so is inspiring so many to do the same!! Rock on Simone, Rock on!

    • Betsy says:

      See, that’s a valid response to her not competing this time. You’re not demanding it of her, you’re not requiring it of her. She’s just so good that of course we want her to see her compete, but I’m glad she’s making the decisions that are right for her.

    • teaholic says:

      And she shows up to cheer on her team! THAT is sportswomanship!

    • damejudi says:

      Exactly right. Biles is an elite athlete who’s wisely taking care of her mental health-which we all know impacts physical health.

      Just b/c there’s a performative aspect to gymnastics (and many professional sports), doesn’t mean she’s an entertainer who has to put on a show at the risk of her well-being.

      I admire her even more for having the wisdom to protect herself.

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s how I feel too – I love watching her perform, and she was pretty much the only one I wanted to watch in the Olympics, but her health and safety come first, and I admire her so much for standing up for herself, and by extension others.
      More gymnasts are now commenting on being forced to perform with bad injuries, and all the early retirements due to injuries they will deal with for the rest of their lives. Simone, truly the best in the world, just gave them all a voice, and empowered other athletes to be able to say NO.

  4. Oh_Hey says:

    Simone doesn’t owe anyone her physical or mental health. Would I have been glued to the tv to see her? sure but not on pain of death or at risk of serous injury.

    She’s doing what’s best for her, setting an example for younger athletes to say no and giving her teammates the chance to shine without her. So far two of them who thought their chances at medaling were limited or just over have picked up a gold and a silver. She’s still helping her team but in a different way given the situation.

  5. Willow says:

    I watched Suni Lee’s floor routine that helped win her gold. So talented! And the Brazilian gymnast who got silver, won the first ever Olympic women’s medal for Brazil. Rebecca, I think her name is, had an injury and surgery last year, so she wasn’t even going to be competing in Tokyo. The pandemic delay gave her time to recover and compete. Congratulations to these ladies and I’m glad Simone and her doctors are making sure she is healthy and safe.

  6. Seraphina says:

    Kudos to Simone for taking care of herself and stating the fact that BOTH mind and body must be in sync. She is a true athlete. A friend told me how people are upset with her and say: how dare she not compete. Which is ABSOLUTLY mind boggling to me. And I hope younger athletes are paying attention.

  7. samipup says:

    We are seeing a brave young woman struggle with her demons. Peace, Simone.

  8. Jess says:

    I agree with you – the way Simone has handled all of this is just another way that she is the GOAT. To be so open about her struggles, and to still be leading and taking care of her team, is so inspiring.

  9. Giddy says:

    Love her and I just want whatever is best for her. Thank heavens that we are not in an era where coaches might have forced her to compete, even at the risk of injury.

    • Golly Gee says:

      USA Gymnastics has to be very careful and watch their step these days. Around the time that Larry Nassar was exposed, a lot of horrible things came out about how abusively they treated female gymnasts. They were actually sued by several gymnasts, but I’m not sure who won out in those cases.

    • Truthiness says:

      We have Simone to thank for some of those changes. When Nassar was removed, they all still had to go to the Karoly ranch to train. She said that returning to the scenes of the crimes was triggering for the survivors. 2 days later the Karoly ranch was removed and the Karolys were not retained in any way.

      • lucy2 says:

        Simone has fought so hard for herself and others, and has not backed down. Hearing her talk about going into this Olympics to keep the pressure on USA Gymnastics was heartbreaking and brave. No one person should have to shoulder that, but she is.

  10. Becks1 says:

    People who are saying she quit don’t understand competitive athletes, especially at that level. I imagine Simone is dying to compete and wants to be out there more than anything – which is why it’s remarkable that she is able to say “this isn’t safe for me right now.” She hasn’t trained for this for years to say “meh, don’t feel like it this week.” If an athlete of her caliber isn’t competing in the olympics, then you know she really can’t.

    • DeeSea says:

      This 100%! Thank you! The way that some people and media outlets are painting her as petulant, capricious, or selfish do not get this very key point—or, more likely, just don’t want to get it. I’m incredibly impressed with Biles. She’s going to help a lot of people by being so open about her experience. We should all be supporting and championing her, not tearing her down.

    • Veronica S. says:

      Seriously – they really think she trained for four years just to stop at the finish line? She’s probably wrestling with plenty of guilt, as it is. If people think the entire weight of the American team’s capability was in her hands (and it’s not – the others are also Olympic level talents), we should be asking why so much pressure was ever put on one athlete to carry a team to begin with.

      People should remember that for all Kerri Strug’s fame, that final vault ended her career. She never came back afterwards. Is that a price really worth it for any athlete, especially if it results in lifelong injury?

    • windyriver says:

      Simone said two things at the time she pulled out, and the armchair experts who are criticizing her aren’t hearing part 2.

      IIRC, her score on the single vault (in the 11′s I believe) she did before withdrawing was the lowest she had ever received in competition. Not only was she aware the problem that had surfaced was a threat to her own safety, but she knew continued poor performance if she made additional attempts threatened the team’s potential results. She said – “I didn’t want to risk the team a medal for, kind of, my screw ups, because they’ve worked way too hard for that.”

      Recognizing that shows a huge amount of character as well. She stepped aside, which allowed other people to shine. And as much as Simone the competitor must hate not being out there, there has to be pride and satisfaction in seeing her teammates seize the opportunities her absence provided.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Exactly. Even if each person acting like an entitled brat over her decision and just showing such a gross lack of compassion was someone with the same skills it wouldn’t be ok. But these people can’t even do what she does, and expect her to put herself at risk. Something about that just makes it even more ridiculous. It’s racism + the culture/generation war, with some sexism thrown in. They’re showing that they don’t see her as a person. There is a lot of overlap with the people coming after her and the “shut up and dribble” crowd too.

  11. Bettyrose says:

    After the commentary about Kerri Strug, I have an even deeper sympathy for Biles. Not that I wasn’t sympathetic but I didn’t really understand what these young women endure. And Simone Biles is not only taking care of herself but setting a precedent that will help future athletes.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I agree that Simone is making the right decisions for herself and it’s no ones business as to why she has made the decisions that she has. Simone has and will always be a GOAT in gymnastics and all of her future endeavors. I am incredibly proud of Simone to listen to her body and to make the decisions that are best for her. Simone has worked hard her entire life and she is making history for putting her health first and setting a precedent that will ensure that her decisions today will save Olympian’s for today and the future. I admire Simone and I admire her taking her time right now to act as a mother hen to all of the other women competing. I rewatched Strug’s ‘96 vault performances and the pain in her face is heartbreaking.
      We must keep supporting Simone as she is a tremendous athlete but also an amazing woman who is very wise beyond her years!

  12. Betsy says:

    Former Republican Steve Schmidt, whom I generally don’t read and certainly don’t cite, had a great thread about what the right wingers who are complaining about her are really saying.

    And we already know what they’re really saying, but it’s a nice read in that people always say that racism isn’t a Black person’s problem, it’s a problem of White people and White people need to name the problem. He does.

  13. Eurydice says:

    I think she’s pulled out of floor ex, too. It’s so impressive to me that Simone can be the GOAT and also an exceptional human being. She’s had the strength to bring 6 Olympic medals and 25 World medals to the US, the strength to face US Gymnastics and their failures over Nassar, and now the strength to face all the criticism and be open about the mind/body connection that athletes have to deal with. She’s extraordinary.

  14. Snapped says:

    I didn’t see that she had pulled out of the floor. Understandable if she is suffering twisties but I would think that would make beam questionable too. I know once you are “out of competition” you have 48 hours to leave the country. I hope she is ok. I can’t imagine what the pressure must be like on such a stage

    • Eurydice says:

      From what I’ve heard, she’s still training and practicing, but it seems unlikely that the twisties will clear up in time. I wonder if at this point the pressure has eased. There’s really nothing she can do to resolve the problem except keep training and time has run out. She’s explained what has happened and her sponsors are supporting her – and the thing is she’s already the GOAT. She didn’t have to do this at all.

  15. Twinkle says:

    She is GOAT!

  16. psl says:

    She should just go home. The longer she stays in Tokyo, the more chance she has of catching COVID. I just want her to take care of herself.

    • Jayna says:

      I really believe she wants to be there all the way through to support her teammates as they compete.

      • Truthiness says:

        I think Simone knows her own health best and will stay only if it feels right. Remember how many friends she has in this community that are there. The pandemic has been hard on Simone and if she wants to mask up and catch up with friends it could mean the world to her. Also I hear Tokyo has some great spas!

  17. Coffeeisgood says:

    I didn’t realize she was 24, that is ‘old’ for a gymnast. That sport is so psychically and mentally tough on a person. I can’t imagine the pressure she probably feels. I hope she is alright.

    She really is the GOAT though and she doesn’t need to prove that to anyone.

  18. Yasmine says:

    I feel this is why them team did not attend the opening ceremony. If Biles was already on the edge seeing a crowd would have made her tip over sooner. What I am confused about is why her mom not allowed to go with her? Mental health is no joke & it was not treated properly in this case. If something had been done before hand like offer Simone better accommodations this would not have happened.

    • Eurydice says:

      Gymnasts don’t usually attend the opening ceremony because their events start early and they need to practice and get situated after traveling. It’s the same with most of the athletes who compete in the first days of the Olympics. As for Simone’s mother, it seems as if no family members were allowed, but she had her coach with her.

  19. K says:

    I’m very grateful to NOT see Simone suffer a grave injury had she forced herself to carry on knowing that things were not right in her body. That could have ruined her life. She’s strong for making the hard call to step back for her safety, giving her teammates more time to shine and encouraging other athletes experiencing overwhelming stress or mental issues to voice it.

    This Olympics seems to have become about women drawing the line when too much is asked of them. We’re still fighting a pandemic on a dying planet, so athletic performance is just not the highest priority right now! Athletes don’t have to compete or win to be worthy of respect, safety and ownership over their own bodies.

  20. Well Wisher says:

    I admire her even more so, while I acknowledge her achievements. It is near impossible to deal with acute anxiety especially having survived trauma at an early age. She is the only survivor in active competition. I hope she understands that she does not owe anyone anything. The only important factor is to get better to heal.

  21. lemontwist says:

    Totally agree with this whole post, Kaiser!

    Simone may be done competing in the Olympics but I think in 4 years we’ll really see how what she’s doing right now is equally as groundbreaking as her athletic achievements. I mean it’s clear to a lot of us right now, but I think the impact this will have on other athletes’ ability to advocate for their mental & physical well-being will be far-reaching. Look at the way her sponsors are speaking up and supporting her decision to prioritize her health and safety. They’re corporations so this isn’t necessarily out of the goodness of their own hearts (lol), but Simone is beloved by so many (and rightly so!) that it’s in their best interests to get behind her.

    As for the Piers Morgan’s, Charlie Kirk’s, and their noxious ilk on Twitter, yes they’re vile and destructive. But also, they’re just such toxic and small people that they can’t really comprehend *anything* about Simone Biles. They don’t understand her athleticism. They don’t understand her strength of spirit. They don’t understand her sportsmanship. They certainly don’t understand her integrity. Doesn’t make their rhetoric any less dangerous but it just kind of changed my view on those who are going after her on SM.

    I have the utmost respect for Simone in every way and find her totally inspiring. A rising tide lifts all boats and Simone is creating that tide. She is the GOAT.

  22. rasiche says:

    there are 2 things that are most probably going on here that are not getting any coverage.
    1 She is on ADHD meds I forgot if its adderall or ritalin (this is confirmed she got a therapeutic use exemption in 2016). Japan has weird laws on these types of meds so it is very probable she has been off her meds since she arrived in japan

    2. the IOC has for the past year been doing small changes in the way they score specific skills (especially the skills only she can do) they are doing this so that she does not embarrass the others by falling twice and still winning by 2 full points (see 2018 world championship)

    I don’t want so sound like a conspiracy theorist but…

    • Eurydice says:

      The Tokyo Olympics also has a therapeutic exemption for Ritalin – all she had to do is apply for it, just like any other time.

      The gymnastics federation is always tweaking the code of points – like they’ll be downgrading the wolf turns. Athletes and coaches just craft the routines to accommodate the new rules.

  23. The Recluse says:

    I think she and some of the other former gymnasts should consider leading a movement to oust the current leadership, which is mostly men, from the American gymnast association ( I can’t remember the exact name of the group ) and become the leadership themselves. They would bring a healthier and fairer attitude to that problematic group, the same group that were willing to overlook Nassar’s abuse of the girls.
    I also think Biles would make an excellent coach.