Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman said Simone Biles pulling out of the team gymnastics event Tuesday is a reminder that the nation’s greatest gymnast is human and someone who has endured more pressure than anyone else in the sport.
“When you watch the coverage of gymnastics, I think sometimes people forget she is human, she has pains like all of us, she has stress,” the retired Olympian from Needham told NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday morning. “Simone has more pressure than any other gymnast I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. It’s insane how much pressure is on her.”
Raisman said she was watching live coverage of the Olympics and saw as Biles was attended to by team personnel after completing a routine on the vault while participating in the team competition.
“My heart dropped and I was just devastated and I still am,” said Raisman, 27, who led the US women’s team to gold medals at the London Games in 2012 and the Rio Games in 2016. “It’s important to remind people that in sports, you can’t predict anything, and everyone is human. So like, stuff happens, even to the best gymnast, even to the best athlete.”
Biles, who posted on social media earlier this week that she feels “the weight of the world” on her shoulders, said Tuesday that she stepped aside because she was not as mentally sharp as needed to safely compete at her level of skill.
“No injury, thankfully, and that’s why I took a step back,” Biles said. “Because I didn’t want to do something silly out there and get injured so I thought it was best if these girls took over and did the rest of the job, which they absolutely did, they’re Olympic silver medalists now.”
The governing body of US Gymnastics issued a statement saying Biles suffered a medical event and will be assessed on a daily basis whether she can continue to compete. She is scheduled to participate in multiple competitions starting Thursday.
Raisman said she hopes the internal challenge that Biles talked about Tuesday will not prevent her from once again demonstrating her mastery of gymnastics during this Olympiad.
“I’m just praying that she’s going to be able to continue to compete. I’m praying that ... whatever’s going on is going to be OK. I’m praying that mentally she’s going to be OK because it’s, it’s really hard. It really is,’' Raisman said before Biles spoke publicly.
Raisman added: “I think people forget sometimes how difficult the stuff is that we are doing. I know Simone makes it look so easy. [But] “it’s very, very hard and I give her a lot of credit for doing that many different vaults.”
Without Biles, the three remaining members of the US women’s gymnastic team pushed ahead and won a silver medal by finishing second to a team from Russia.
Raisman noted that the Russians won both the men’s and women’s team competitions.
“They were amazing and so I think it’s important to congratulate them as well,” said Raisman. “They did a great job.”