DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Widely considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time, Simone Biles removed herself from the team competition on Tuesday due to mental health reasons. Following the withdrawal, Biles cheered her teammates to victory with silver medals, falling behind Russia.
“I knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job, and I didn’t want to risk the team a medal for my screw ups, because they’ve worked way too hard for that,” said Biles.
Linh-Han Ikehara works at Dayton Children’s Hospital’s Center for the Female Athlete as a Behavioral Health Specialist. She said many of the athletes she’s worked with feel immense pressure to succeed. “They have their own personal expectations about how they want to perform, or how they wanna be doing in their personal lives. That causes a lot of additional stressors.”
Jamie Broz, athlete manager for the Center for the Female, also knows a thing or two about gymnastics, and has worked as a USA Gymnastics athletic trainer in the past. During the Rio Olympic games, Broz also worked with Biles herself.
“Overall she strives to be the best version of herself, and to be the best she can be at every given moment. Those are the things we’re not aware of. We don’t see the hours she put into training, we don’t see the issues she might have had to get there,” said Broz.
Along with Ikehara and Broz, Biles also has a fan in young female athletes. When asked if they wanted to talk about Simone Biles, gymnasts at the Performance Gymnastics Academy in Kettering jumped at the chance to discuss their hero.
“I’m scared of the beam sometimes, and I’m watching and I’m like ‘wow.’ I just wanna be like her. I just wanna get better at doing gymnastics. If she can do it, I can do it too,” said Penelope.
Olivia Gamberta, owner and coach of Performance Gymnastics Academy, said she’s proud of Biles’s decision, and that no medal is worth risking mental health. “It was also good for them to see that their hero had a breaking point, she’s working on it and fixing it for the rest of the Olympics.”
So far, Biles hasn’t announced if she’ll be returning for Thursday’s all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics. Biles is the current defending champion.