Why Simone Biles Withdrew From The Team USA Final At The Olympics ─ But Will Still Compete Individually

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Simone Biles

Simone Biles withdrew from the women’s team gymnastics final following a stumble on the vault, leaving her teammates without its highest-scoring gymnast.

After an errored her landing, Biles swiftly exited the Tokyo arena and soon news broke that the renowned gymnast would not continue competing with her team.

Biles’ departure left an opening for Russian gymnasts, competing as the Russian Olympics Committee, to secure gold, leaving Team USA with silver.

However, after her pause, Biles is expected to return for her pursuit of a gold medal in individual competitions.

Why did Simone Biles withdraw from team gymnastics at the Olympics?

The shocking decision to withdraw from the competition left many concerned that Biles had sustained an injury, but she has addressed the reason behind her exit, demonstrating the pressures that come with perfection.

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Biles cited mental health concerns.

In a tearful explanation of why she had exited the Olympics competition, Biles said, "It just sucks when you're fighting with your own head."

"Whenever you get in a high-stress situation, you kind of freak out," the 24-year-old added. "I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being."

The 4-time Olympic gold medalist has been labeled the GOAT ─ greatest of all time ─ of the sport and with that comes, undeniably, immense pressure.

"It's been a long Olympic journey, it's been a long year ... after the performance that I did, I didn't want to go into the other events, so I thought I would step back," Biles also explained.

Gymnastics USA say Biles has a "medical issue."

Following her withdrawal, Gymnastics USA released a statement saying: "Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions. Thinking of you, Simone!"

This statement and Biles’ unsteady landing spoke to concerns that she had been injured in the complicated vault.

But Biles’ explanation of the exit shows that mental and physical health are intrinsically linked ─ particularly when your mental pressures are hinged on your physical performance as is the case with Biles.

“When standing in the world spotlight with the monicker 'Greatest Of All Time' on your back, the mental pressure is immense. This only further raises the effects of the cortisol, adrenaline and fear coursing through her veins. All of which can quickly lead to debilitating self-doubt,” says confidence coach Michele Molitor.

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Biles demonstrates the pressure of greatness.

Coming into the 2020 Olympics, Biles was not only the GOAT and one of the leading forces in Team USA’s gymnastics success, but she is also the only remaining survivor of one of USA Gymnastics darkest periods still in the sport.

Biles has consistently criticized USA Gymnastics for their failure to investigate a history of sexual abuse in the sport following the conviction of Larry Nassar, a longtime national team doctor who molested hundreds of female athletes including Biles.

"I'm going to go out there and represent the USA, represent World Champions Centre and represent Black and brown girls over the world. At the end of the day I am not representing USA gymnastics," Biles said shortly before the Olympics.

Entering the competition, Biles carried the weight of greatness, trauma, and advocacy on her shoulders, demonstrating her immense strength.

Pulling out of the Games takes the same level of power and bravery.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.