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Simone Biles says outpouring of support has shown her she's 'more than my accomplishments'

·2 min read
Simone Biles.
Simone Biles. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Simone Biles is feeling the love.

On Wednesday night, Biles tweeted that the outpouring of support she has received since withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics made her realize "I'm more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before." When announcing her withdrawal, Biles said it is important for the public to understand that "we're not just athletes, we're people," and she needed to step back for her mental health.

Singer Justin Bieber was just one of the many celebrities who publicly applauded Biles for choosing to pull out of the games, and she shared his Instagram message with her fans. "Nobody will ever understand the pressures you face," Bieber told Biles. "I know we don't know each other but I'm so proud of the decision to withdraw. It's as simple as, what does it mean to gain the world but forfeit your soul."

Biles also reposted a message from fitness trainer Andrea Orris, who slammed people who criticized Biles for her withdrawal. On Tuesday, Biles explained that she had experienced "the twisties" during competition, a phenomenon that can strike a gymnast while they are spinning and cause them to lose control of their bodies. Orris wrote that "the fact that [Biles] balked mid-air and accidentally did a 1.5 on her first vault instead of a 2.5 is a big deal. It's terrifying. She could have been severely injured getting lost in the air like that."

Another person who understands how Biles feels is Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who said it "broke my heart" to hear how Biles was feeling in Tokyo. Phelps has spoken publicly about his battle with depression, and said Olympic athletes "carry a lot of weight on our soldiers, and it's challenging. Especially when we have the lights on us and all of these expectations that are being thrown on top of us." He hopes people see this as "an opportunity for us to jump on board, and to even blow this mental health thing even more wide open. It is so much bigger than we can ever imagine."

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