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Simone Biles Withdraws from Gymnastics Team Finals

Gymnast Simone Biles of the United States during training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2021. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics team finals at the Olympics on Tuesday, saying that she wasn’t in the right “mental space” to compete safely.

“I was second guessing myself and thought, ‘Best to let the girls do it.’ And they stepped up to the plate,” Biles told reporters after the team finals ended. “I didn’t want to go out there and do something dumb and get hurt. It’s not worth it . . . . We’re not just athletes, we’re people.”

Biles, who is widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, noted she felt pressure going into the Olympics. She has performed some of the most difficult combinations ever undertaken by a female gymnast in competition.

“We had a workout this morning and it went OK and then just that five-and-a-half hour wait or something, I was just shaking, could barely nap, I just never felt like this going into a competition before and tried to go out there and have fun,” Biles explained on Tuesday.  “Once I came out here I was like, ‘No, mental is not there so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.'”

The U.S. team went on to win a silver medal in the finals, with Russia taking gold. Jordan Childs took Biles’s place in the lineup.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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