Jul 28, 2021 - Sports

Simone Biles lauded for "bravery in prioritizing" mental wellness

Simone Biles of Team United States smiles during the Women's Team Final on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Team USA's Simone Biles during the women's team final on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Center in Japan on Tuesday. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Olympic champion Simone Biles is receiving widespread praise for putting "mental wellness over all else" after withdrawing from the U.S. women's team finals and the upcoming all-around final at the Tokyo Games this week.

The big picture: Leading figures from the world of sports, politics, entertainment and fans, including former first lady Michelle Obama and U.S. swimming legend Michael Phelps, have lauded the four-time Olympic gold medalist.

  • Phelps said on NBC that the "Olympics is overwhelming" and that "we're human beings, nobody is perfect. It's OK to not be OK."
  • What Biles was going through "broke my heart," Phelps said. "But also, if you look at it, mental health over the last 18 months is something that people are talking about."
What else they're saying:
  • USA Gymnastics said in a statement announcing Biles wouldn't defend her Olympic all-around title on Thursday, "We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being."
  • U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland tweeted after Biles withdrew from Tuesday's team event: "We applaud your decision to prioritize your mental wellness over all else, and offer you the full support and resources of our Team USA community as you navigate the journey ahead."
  • Michelle Obama tweeted, "Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily," tagging Biles' Twitter account.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) tweeted, "I love and admire Simone Biles and our Olympians. Beyond their determination and sacrifice, they evidence the greatness of the human spirit, in victory and in defeat. I take pride in them, not so much for the medals they win as for the grace, humanity & character of their hearts."
  • American tennis player Coco Gauff, who had to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19, tagged Biles in her tweet saying: "we love you and we are with you 🇺🇸"
  • Jamaica gymnast Danusia Francis tweeted, "Don't know about you but I think @Simone_Biles just empowered everyone to put their mental well-being above everything else. WHAT A QUEEN. GOAT in more ways than one. ❤️"
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