United States gymnastics star Simone Biles said her shocking withdrawal from Tuesday’s women’s gymnastics team finals was due to her mental health.
Biles landed a vault during the Americans’ first rotation, but then left the floor with a trainer and returned later with her right leg wrapped as she watched her teammates capture the silver medal.
USA Gymnastics said the reason for Biles’s withdrawal was medical, but the 24-year-old said she was not injured.
“No injury, thankfully, and that’s why I took a step back,” she 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.”
Biles said the entire Olympic process has been “stressful” and a lot of variables contributed to her withdrawal.
“It’s been a long week, it’s been a long Olympic process, it’s been a long year, so just a lot of different variables and I think we’re just a little bit too stressed out but we should be out there having fun and sometimes that’s not the case.”
With the weight of being the Olympic star, Biles said she had never felt as tense leading up to an event as she did Tuesday.
“We had a workout this morning, it went OK,” Biles said, “and then just that 5½-hour wait or something, I was just like shaking, could barely nap.
“I’ve just never felt like this going into a competition before, and I tried to go out here and have fun. Warmup in the back went a little better, but then once I came out here, I was like, ‘No, mental’s not there. I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.’ "
Biles also spoke with NBC’s Hoda Kotb, and when Kotb asked Biles if she would compete in Thursday’s all-around event, she said, “We’re going to take it day-by-day and we’re just going to see.”