America’s most decorated gymnast, Simone Biles, withdrew from the women’s gymnastics team final on day four of the Tokyo Olympics, citing mental health concerns.
In an official statement, USA Gymnastics confirmed that Biles sat out the team final competition “due to a medical issue.”
“She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions," the statement said.
Biles later clarified during a press conference that her decision to withdraw was not related to a physical injury but due to not being in the best headspace to compete and needing to work on her mindfulness.
"I was just, like, shaking, could barely nap. I just never felt like this going into a competition before, and I tried to go out here and have fun," Biles said.
"Warm up in the back went a little bit better, but then 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," she added.
The USA women's team ultimately finished in second place with a silver medal. They were beaten out by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), who secured gold and were immediately congratulated by Biles and her fellow teammates. Great Britain finished in third position, earning a bronze medal.
The 24-year-old appeared shaky on the vault Tuesday, where she performed 1.5 twists instead of 2.5 and landed with a big correction. Her performance earned her a score of 13.766, the lowest score in the first rotation.
Reacting to her initial performance, a disappointed Biles said it was "not her best" and explained that she made the decision to bow out to avoid negatively impacting the team, but had full faith that her peers would deliver.
"I knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job, and I didn't want to risk the team a medal for my screwups because they've worked way too hard for that so I just decided that those girls need to go and do the rest of the competition," said Biles.
The athlete was seen exiting the Ariake Gymnastics Centre with her bag in hand and was attended to by a trainer, according to reports from Tokyo.
She later returned to the arena, where she hugged her teammates and cheered for them from the sidelines. Alternate Jordan Chiles stepped in for Biles and took her place on uneven bars.
Biles made history as the first woman gymnast since 1992 to qualify for all six of the Olympic finals: team, individual all-around, vault, floor, beam, and uneven bars.
Biles’ campaign this Olympic season was in pursuit of six possible gold medals. It remains unclear if she will compete in the individual rounds.
Ahead of the competition, the athlete had spoken candidly about the physical toll gymnastics had taken on her body, describing the pain as "unreal."
Just a day before her exit from the team final, Biles told her followers on Instagram that she felt the "weight of the world" on her shoulders.
"I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard," she wrote, going on to say that she was thankful that her family was present at the competition virtually.