U.S. teammates relate to Simone Biles: 'She's not a quitter'

July 28 (UPI) — Simone Biles‘ Team USA teammates hope she can return to Olympic competition soon and maintained that the star gymnast “is not a quitter,” in response to criticism after her withdrawal from two events in Tokyo.

“She is Simone for a reason,” Team USA’s Jordan Chiles said Wednesday on Today. “She is not a quitter. You will never see Simone just go out there and not do what she knows she can do.”

Biles responded to critics late Wednesday with an Instagram post she shared to her story from former gymnastics coach and trainer Andrea Orris. The post referenced former team doctor and convicted sex offender Larry Nassar, whom Biles said sexually abused her as a child.

The post also referenced the stress through which Biles has gone for health and pandemic-related reasons.

“We will never know or fully understand her personal choices and struggles,” the post said. “She does not deserve to have any judgement passed.”

Biles’ first withdrawal came Tuesday in the women’s gymnastics team all-around final. The four-time gold medalist completed her first vault rotation, but she did not compete in floor, beam or bars. She did stay in the arena to support her teammates.

Biles told reporters she got “lost in the air” and feared injury as she twisted off the vault. She said she is physically healthy.

USA Gymnastics said Wednesday that Biles then withdrew from Thursday’s individual all-around competition to focus on her mental health. She is being evaluated daily to determine if she can participate in next week’s individual event finals.

“I tried to tell her, look, you know how to do everything,” Chiles said. “This is your moment. It’s all up to you. I can’t say a lot because she has to tell her own story. I’m going to support her no matter what. I’m her teammate and her best friend.

“This was the moment I realized I’ve gotten closer to her than I ever thought. She is my ride or die.”

Chiles appeared with teammate Grace McCallum on Today. McCallum said she was nervous when she performed the bars as the first Team USA competitor after Biles’ exit for the team final.

“I was really stressed, because I knew my routine would probably set the whole mood for the rest of the meet,” McCallum said. “It was a lot of pressure.”

Chiles, McCallum and Sunisa Lee earned a silver medal Tuesday, despite Biles’ exit. The Russian Olympic Committee won the women’s team final. Great Britain placed third.

Jade Carey will replace Biles and represent Team USA in the all-around individual final Thursday in Tokyo.

While Biles is widely regarded as the best gymnast in history, the Team USA women’s gymnasts are still expected to compete for gold even if she can’t participate in future events.

Carey is a vault and floor specialist. She finished second in vault to Biles at the 2019 world championships. Lee placed second behind Biles in floor at the world championships and finished third in uneven bars. The 2020 world championships were canceled due to COVID-19.

Carey finished with the second-best score in vault and third-best in floor in qualifications. She won the vault and floor competitions at the 2020 Melbourne World Cup and the 2019 Doha World Cup and Baku World Cup.

McCallum posted Team USA’s second-highest scores on vault, balance beam and floor in the team final. She won a bronze medal and finished third behind Biles and Lee on balance beam at the 2021 National Championships.

Lee is a gold medal favorite on the uneven bars and also could win a medal in the all-around, beam and floor events.

The women’s individual all-around competition airs at 6:50 a.m. EDT Thursday on Peacock. The next women’s gymnastics event, the vault final, airs at 4:45 a.m. EDT Sunday on Peacock. Biles told reporters Tuesday that she hopes to “compete in a couple more events.”

“I say put mental health first,” Biles told reporters Tuesday. “Because if you don’t, you aren’t going to enjoy your sport and succeed as much as you want to.

“It’s OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself. It shows how strong of a person and competitor that you really are.”

Russian Olympic Committee members celebrate after winning the gold medal at the team all-around finals on July 27, beating the United States. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo


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