Simone Biles has been the subject of countless headlines and articles over the past week because of her decision to withdraw from the gymnastics competition in the Tokyo Olympics.
The 24-year-old from Columbus, OH, shocked the nation when she decided to withdraw from both the team and individual all-around finals. She attributed her decision to mental health concerns.
Prior to withdrawing from the competition, Biles posted a prophetic message on Instagram. The message came after the strenuous all-around qualifications of a couple weeks ago. Biles wrote after helping qualify the USA team for the finals:
“It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it. 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!”
The Backlash Against Simone Biles
Anyone who’s spent even a few minutes on the internet in the past week know that the country has reacted in varied (but always loud) ways to Simone Biles’s decision. Some are shocked that she dropped out, as it seems like nobody give up when they’re so close to winning it all. However, many have heard Biles’s assertion that she wants to put her mental health ahead of a competition, even if it is one of the most life-changing competitions in the world.
On the flip side, Simone Biles defenders point to the fact that she has already won it all. She’s been a gold medalist several times, and there’s no need for her to suffer under such pressure just to make her country proud. Her individual mental health, just like everybody else’s, is more important than sports.
Simone Biles Isn’t the Only Athlete Who Decided Not to Participate in the Tokyo Olympics
It seems that because Simone Biles dropped out during the Olympics instead of ahead of them, she’s receiving more attention than the other star athletes who made the same decision. The disappointment of not being able to watch a star like Biles perform (and likely win) has rocked the country, but she is far from the only athlete to put a pause on the competition for her own sake.
These are just some of the other world-famous athletes who also chose not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics for a variety of personal reasons:
- Rafael Nadal of Spain, tennis player, chose not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics to allow his body to recover after two Grand Slam tournaments.
- Serena Williams of the U.S., tennis player, decided against competing in the Tokyo Olympics for unspecified reasons.
- Roger Federer of Switzerland, tennis player, did not enter the competition due to a knee injury.
- Dustin Johnson, golf player, chose to focus on the PGA tour rather than the Tokyo Olympics.
- Molly Huddle of the U.S. decided not to enter the track and field competition for the Olympics to recover from unpleasant hip and ankle injuries.
- Laurie Hernandez of the U.S., another Olympian gymnast, hyperextended her knee ahead of the Olympic trials this year and went no further in the competition.
Every year, several athletes choose not to try for the Olympics. These games are not the end-all-be-all of competition, and if an athlete doesn’t feel physically or mentally ready, the stakes and the pressure can push them over the edge. All we can do is hope to see our favorite athletes recover from their injuries and stress, and compete in more games in the future when they feel up to it.