Simone Biles Withdraws with Mental Health Issues
The biggest star at the Tokyo Olympics is the biggest story at the Olympics, as Simone Biles withdrawal from the team finals on Tuesday has extended to an announcement on Wednesday that she is also withdrawing from the individual all-around final.
This is big news because since Biles first competed in an all-around final in 2013, she’s never lost. It’s also troubling news because a champion of her calibre, chasing Olympic history, wouldn’t make a decision like this in haste.
USA Gymnastics made the announcement of Biles’ withdrawal with this statement:
“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games in order to focus on her mental health. Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals.”
In the statement it was also announced that Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifications, will replace Biles in Thursday’s finals. Suni Lee qualified in third position and is the other American woman competing in the all-around final.
Simone Biles Future
Before Tuesday’s team final, Biles did post on her Instagram page that she was feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders. She also commented in an interview back in April that one of the reasons she didn’t retire was that as an active gymnast, and someone who was abused by team doctor Larry Nassar, she could ensure that USA Gymnastics didn’t ignore the widespread abuse and fail to change its culture of hiding from allegations.
Nassar was just the tip of the iceberg, however, as the revelations about him led to hundreds of gymnasts coming forward to allege some form of sexual abuse at the hands of coaches, gym owners, and other adults working in the sport.
Not only has Biles been the face of a gymnastics champion, she has been the face of the abused athlete. If a gold medalist could be targeted, what hope did other girls have? And no doubt these dual burdens have taken a toll on someone who has never lived as an adult outside the intense spotlight of being the world’s best.
Biles is waiting to make a decision on the individual event finals next week. And she hasn’t made any announcements, for or against, retiring at the end of these Olympics. She may return, and she may retire. But at the moment the only real concern is for her mental health.
Katie Ledecky Finally Wins Gold
The most dominant woman in the pool at the Rio Olympics finally has her first gold medal of the Tokyo Games. Katie Ledecky, who earlier in the day finished off the medal stand for the first time ever in a major international meet (36 total events), won the first ever women’s 1500-meter freestyle by more than four seconds.
She has never lost a 1500-meter final and is the world record holder. It was a challenge to immediately put aside the disappointing finish in the 200-meter freestyle and turn focus to the 1500, but she is so dominant there was very little concern that she could do it.
“I knew I had to turn the page very quickly, And in the warmdown pool, I was just thinking of my family. I was thinking of my grandparents, and they’re the toughest four people I know, and that’s what helped me get through that.”
Still to come for Ledecky is the 800-meter freestyle. According to the sportsbook’s Olympic odds, she’s favored to win a second gold of these Olympics and the seventh gold medal of her Olympic career.
U.S. Men’s Basketball Blows Out Iran
The Iranian men’s basketball team met the United States at the wrong time – right when the U.S. was mad and embarrassed about its loss to France to open the Olympic basketball tournament. All of the frustrations of that loss were taken out on the Iranians, 120-66.
All 12 of the Americans on the roster scored at least four points and Damian Lillard was the top scorer with 21. A big positive, along with the 54-point win, was that Devin Booker no longer looked out of sorts after his late arrival to Japan following the NBA Finals. He scored 16 points and was six-for-nine from the floor.
Up next is the Czech Republic on Saturday. The US are favored in the event by 23½-points, up from an opening number of 22 set by the sportsbook for Olympic basketball odds.