Listening to her body. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the vault and uneven bars finals at the 2021 Games in Tokyo on Friday, July 30, following a mental health concern that previously forced her to withdraw from the all-around finals three days prior.
“After further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars,” USA Gymnastics revealed in a statement. “She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam.” Fellow USA gymnast MyKayla Skinner will take her place.
Following the 24-year-old’s decision to remove herself from the all-around competition on Tuesday, July 27, Simone explained why she felt compelled to sit it out. “Once I came out here [to compete], I was like, ‘No, mental is not there, so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself,’” she told the press at the time. Fellow USA gymnast Jade Carey — who had been competing in Tokyo not as part of Team USA but as an individual — stepped in to take her place in the all-around finals.
The Ohio native later revealed that she had been suffering from a phenomenon known by gymnasts as the “twisties.” The disturbance occurs when an athlete loses awareness while they are in mid-air, which makes it incredibly difficult to land safely. This usually happens due to a mental block, Simone’s coach, Aimee Boorman, told the Today show.
“Every once in a while, she would form this block and it usually had nothing to do with the gymnastics itself,” the gymnastics professional explained to the outlet on Thursday, July 29. “It had to do with other things going on in her, in her universe.”
However, it is clear Simone has a large support system that has her back amid the unforeseen circumstances. “Imma ride with you through whatever baby,” her boyfriend, NFL star Jonathan Owens, wrote to her in a sweet tribute post on Friday. “Your strength and courage are unmatched and you inspire me more and more everyday SB. You always gone be my champ baby and don’t you ever forget that. I love you so much and I can’t wait till you come home and I get to see that beautiful smile again. You know I’m always here for you baby.”