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Simone Biles thanks fans for making her realize ‘I’m more than my accomplishments’

Simone Biles waits to perform on the vault
Simone Biles waits to perform on the vault during the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Star gymnast Simone Biles thanked fans for their support after she made the startling decision to withdraw from team and all-around competitions at the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health strain.

While a flood of critics suggested Biles choked or quit on her teammates, the elite gymnast also was widely praised by celebrities, her peers and fans for boldly choosing to acknowledge she was risking catastrophic injury if mental health challenges were preventing her from focusing on her event.

Biles, who could still compete in individual events later in the Games, posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, “the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles pulls out of two events at the Tokyo Olympics because of mental health issues. Other athletes understand the struggle.

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The tweet prompted more praise.

Former Olympian Dominique Moceanu replied, “Gymnastics is what you do It’s not who you are.”

Fellow former Olympian Carly Patterson added, “I’ve loved watching you over the years, you have a lot to be proud of! Your accomplishments will always be yours, & even better than that you have so much life/happy times ahead of you beyond gymnastics.”

During the team competition Tuesday, Biles didn’t know where she was in the air on a vault, a state of disorientation gymnasts call “the twisties.”

”I was just like, shaking. … I’ve never felt like this going into competition before,” she said during a news conference after she withdrew from the all-around competition.

While Biles said she felt pressure to deliver dominant performances on the Olympic stage, she also knew faking it would risk injury and hurt her team’s medal chances. The Americans ultimately took silver in the all-around event.

“We want to walk out of here, not be dragged out of here on a stretcher or anything,” she said. “After that vault I was, ‘I’m not in the right headspace. I’m not going to lose a medal for this country and these girls because they worked way too hard for me to go out there and have them lose a medal.’

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“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to and I don’t know if it’s age. I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun and I know that this Olympic Games I wanted it to be for myself.”


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