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Simone Biles withdraws from two of her four individual Olympic finals

·3 min read

Simone Biles appears increasingly unlikely to return to action at the Tokyo Olympics after announcing her withdrawal from Sunday’s individual finals in the vault and uneven bars.

The 24-year-old has not competed since she pulled out of the women’s team final on Wednesday after one rotation, citing mental health concerns.

USA Gymnastics said in a statement: “Today, after further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars.

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“She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam.

“We remain in awe of Simone, who continues to handle this situation with courage and grace, and all of the athletes who have stepped up during these unexpected circumstances.”

Biles, for now, is still scheduled to compete in the uneven bars final on Monday and the beam the following day.

Biles, who was a vocal presence in the Ariake Arena when cheering her team-mate Sunisa Lee to all-around gold on Friday, said in a social media post on Friday that she was continuing to suffer from a phenomenon known as ‘twisting’.

The four-time defending Olympic champion wrote: “It has never transferred to bars and beam for me. This time it’s literally in every event which sucks.

“(You) literally cannot tell up from down. It’s the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body.”

If Biles does rule herself out of the floor final, Britain’s Jennifer Gadirova will step up from first reserve to join her sister in the competition.

Biles’ decision has been welcomed by the British Athletes Commission (BAC) chair Vicki Aggar as a “seminal moment” in sport.

Jennifer Gadirova would secure a place in the floor final if Biles withdraws
Jennifer Gadirova would secure a place in the floor final if Biles withdraws (Mike Egerton/PA)

“For one of the highest-profile names at an Olympic Games to, whilst in the running for a fifth career gold medal, put her mental health first is a huge statement,” Aggar said.

“Her courage can now ensure that the conversation can move on even further; that athletes can feel more comfortable speaking out about such issues; that decision-makers within sport will find it impossible not to factor in mental health considerations when building an environment for training or competition.

“For all Simone Biles’ countless extraordinary achievements, pushing forward the conversation on mental health and providing a courageous and unprecedented example to current and future athletes around the world, may just turn out to be her most important.”

The BAC represents over 1,200 elite athletes and offers independent support, including mental health assistance where it is needed.

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