Olympics gymnast Simone Biles has broken her silence following her withdrawal from the individual all-around final.
She also thanked her fans for their love and support in a tweet she posted on Wednesday night.
“The outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,” she wrote.
The 24-year-old gymnast, who won four gold medals at the Rio Games in 2016, announced on Wednesday morning that she has decided not to defend her title.
Biles’ decision to pull out from the team final sparked lengthy controversy online, with many critics accusing her of ‘abandoning’ her team USA teammates.
She later hinted that the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of doctor Larry Nassar is behind the mental health problems that prompted her to withdraw.
Biles shared a statement from a fellow gymnast Andrea Orris who hit out at critics while reminding people that the 24-year-old was ‘molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood.’
“We are talking about the same girl who was molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood and teenage years,” Orris wrote.
“That girl has endured more trauma by the age of 24 than most people will ever go through in a lifetime,” she continued.
A US official told Daily Mail that Orris’ statement “sums up everything Simone is feeling and wants to say.”
“The fact that Simone has retweeted it, shows that she agrees with every word that’s been said on her behalf,” the source continued.
One person commented: “If over-competition in sport seriously damages your mental health, you have no other choice than quit. Finding a wholesome, self-fulfilling activity in life is more important than a relentless drive for success and fame.”
Another asked: “Shouldn’t mental health fitness also be examined before someone is placed in the Olympics or placed on a team?”
A third said: “I sympathize with her to some extent. Perhaps she did have a mental breakdown after all.”
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