As the most decorated American gymnast – who is often regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time – Simone Biles’ shocked the world on Tuesday by exiting the Tokyo Olympics.
The 24-year-old gymnast was competing in the Teams competition and had completed her floor, beam and uneven bar events with setbacks.
Things became too much for the champion athlete when she bailed out of her intended vault skill, mid-way.
Shortly after it was announced that she was exiting the competition.
The reason surrounding her exit was initially unclear, though she eventually stated that it was for mental health reasons.
The decision has become highly controversial. She has received both praise and judgement as fans process the news.
Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler and Hoda Kotb were quick to support the four-time Olympic campion.
Tweeting from Tokyo while covering the Olympic games, Kotb tweeted “Someone said it best. @Simone_Biles already won. She is a class act. Withdrew from team after vault… stayed and cheered on her teammates… got them chalk for their hands.. encouraged.. hugged them. She already won. Congrats on the silver medal!’
“@Simone_Biles, you’re solid gold in my book” tweeted DeGeneres, while Handler stated: “@Simone_Biles drew a boundary for herself and her health on the on the world stage. This is real superhuman strength, setting an example for all of us.”
Biles also recieved support from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Psaki tweeted, “Gratitude and suppoer are what @Simone_Biles deserves. Still the GOAT and we are all just lucky to be able to see her in action. And congrats and tks to the tough as nails #TeamUSA @sunisalee, @ChilesJordan, @grace_mccallum2 for being role models and camps.”
Amongst fans and spectators, debate raged on about whether Biles did the right or not.
Many compared her exit to tennis player Naomi Osaka who withdrew from the French Open earlier this year to focus on her mental health.
One tweet, from @KyleDillard20, writes, “The difference between Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka is their result. Osaka took an L, with grace, faced her demons of the press, after taking time to work on her mental health to compete… Simone biles has quit mid competition. It’s not the same situation.”
Though another tweet from @MrAhmednurAli simply reads, “Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka don’t owe you anything. Read that again.”
There we some who felt as though Biles exited because she wasn’t performing her best (therefore was not receiving attention).
“Medical issue? Sort of looked like Simone Biles gave up in anger after her vault landing wasn’t perfect and abandoned the team in a huff of disappointment. I’m sure the pressure was immense but she walked out on her team mid-event” one tweet stated.
While there were also many who saw Biles’ decision as abandoning her team.
“A team captain just doesn’t simply abandon ship when it is navigating rough seas. What Simone Biles did is not what a team captain does in a middle of a competition. Disapointing!” another tweet stated.
There were also many who admitted that they were disappointed by the decision, though wished the young athlete well during this troubling time.
In her own words, Biles stated that part of the decision to withdraw was for her teammates. She stated that she “didn’t want to risk the team medal” with what she described as her “screw ups.”
She also declared that she was “dealing with things internally”.
Team USA finished second in the team event behind the gold-medal winners Russian Olympic Committee.