American Olympic gymnast Simone Biles has removed herself from the US team event at the Tokyo Games following an error-filled performance that she says was triggered by mental pressure.
World-famous American gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of Olympic team competition after it had started Tuesday over mental pressure and stress stemming from being the greatest gymnast in history, she told the New York Times.
Her exit helped pave the way for Russia to win the gold medal, "ending American domination of the event for more than a decade," the Times added.
On Sunday, Biles struggled with her performance at the qualification for the team event. As the Times notes, Biles made uncharacteristic errors on the balance beam, floor, and vault.
Meanwhile, Russia didn't miss a beat:
One day after its men's team won the Olympic gold medal, the Russian team's women executed its challenging routines with precision and grace, and the U.S. team simply could not keep up. It didn't help the Americans' confidence that it came into the final trying to bounce back from a second-place finish to Russia in qualifying.
What's weird is how the media is spinning this. I have no issue with someone realizing their limitations or taking a step back to deal with mental health. I also don't fault someone for failing to get the gold because of said stress.
I do, however, take issue with people spinning Biles into a hero when the reality is – personal issues be darned – she let her team and her nation down.
I mean, seriously, look at this garbage headline from the AP:
To protect her team?
Maybe she would have made things worse if her mental stress was affecting her performance.
But as anyone who has ever served on a team can tell you – whether it be sports, the military, or a local seniors shuffleboard club – it is not noble, no matter the circumstances, to step back and leave your team hanging.
Look at a few other remarks from the Twitter crowd:
Imagine if the boys on D-Day had simply decided to tap out because they were under too much stress from those dang German machine guns. Sometimes, you have to muscle through, and if you can't, that act of cowardice should not be treated as valor. As C.S. Lewis said, courage is not merely a virtue, "but the form of every virtue at the testing point."
"At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me," she also noted to the Times before noting that "it just sucks that it happened at the Olympic Games."
"Right for ME."
Despite this, the USA Gymnastics women's program vice president said that Biles' decision to quit was "incredibly selfless."
After the competition, Biles said at a press conference that "I say put mental health first because if you don't then you're not gonna enjoy your sport, and you're not gonna succeed as much as you want to. So it's OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are rather than just battle through it."
Biles has not said whether she will be returning for the individual gymnastic events, but part of me hopes she does. If there is one thing that put too much of a spotlight on her to perform, it's the individual event.
I have nothing but respect for Biles' extraordinary talent and I hope she gets the help she needs.
But her exit to deal with mental stress is in every way a negative, and our clown world media and social scene is making it even worse.