Just hours before she was forced to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles opened up about feeling the "weight of the world" on her in an emotional social media post. The 24-year-old elite gymnast on Tuesday had to withdraw from the women's team gymnastic final event due to an unspecified "medical issue."
Shared on Monday following the preliminary round, Biles reflected on her first day of gymnastics at the Summer Games as she looked ahead to the finals. In the post, the gymnast said "it wasn't an easy day or my best but I got through it." During the prelimnary rounds, which determine the teams that make it to the finals, the Biles-led U.S. team came out one point behind Russia with a score of 170.562. While the 24-year-old placed first in both vault the all-around competition, she placed third in balance beam and eighth in the uneven bars. For the floor routine, she placed second behind the Russian Olympic Committee.
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"I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke," Biles continued in her post, which was shared alongside two photos from the preliminary round. "BUT I'm happy my family was able to be with me virtually they mean the world to me!"
The post drew a round of supportive comments from her fellow athletes. Track Olympian and fellow Athleta ambassador Allyson Felix commented, "We are all so proud of you already! You are authentically enough. You got this." Nastia Liukin, gymnastics icon and NBC analyst, reshared Biles' post to her Instagram Story, writing that she feels "like at times, people forget that even the very best in the world are still human — with hearts, nerves, pain, stress, anxiety, pressure." Liukin encouraged people to "continue to spread our love and support to our athletes who are doing something SO difficult already and then having to also handle the weight of an entire nation and world on their shoulders during a pandemic without fans. AND their number one supporters, their family."
Although Biles was looking ahead to advancing in the Olympic Games in that Monday post, USA Gymnastics confirmed Tuesday that she "has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions." The announcement came after Biles slipped during her vault attempt. After finishing with a 13.766 score, she was seen talking with the team's medical trainer and exiting the floor. The U.S. Olympic team will not be forced to finish the rest of the competition without her amid their bid to claim a third straight Olympic title.