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Simone Biles exits Olympic team competition due to mental health issues, hopes to compete in individual events

Simone Biles was pulled from the team competition here Tuesday after an awkward, low-scoring attempt on vault, leaving the United States without its biggest star in what ultimately proved to be a silver-medal finish behind Russia’s gold.

Biles bailed out on her expected vault, attempting just a Yurchenko 1.5. She still needed a massive bounce/stumble upon landing.

She briefly left the arena floor with a USA Gymnastics trainer only to quickly return with her wrists wrapped for an apparent return to the uneven bars, the Americans’ second rotation. She then unwrapped them and put on warm-ups.

Biles later said that she was dealing with a number of mental health issues, including an intense pressure to achieve perfection and fear of how she would be judged by the public at large.

When she couldn’t complete the Yurchenko 2.5, she realized she would only hurt the team by continuing to compete and that wasn’t fair to the others.

“I’m not in the right headspace,” Biles said. “I’m not going to lose a medal for this country and for these girls. They worked too hard … it’s not worth it, especially when you have three amazing athletes who can step up.”

Biles said that she would be working on her mental health the next few days and hoped to still be able to complete in the all-around competition on Thursday and in the four individual event finals in which she qualified. 

Her coach said that she would be getting professional help first thing Wednesday morning here in Japan.

“I’m going to focus on my well-being,” Biles said. “I am more than just a gymnast.”

After pulling out of the team gymnastics competition, Simone Biles said she would be working on her mental health the next few days and hoped to still be able to complete in the all-around competition. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The loss of Biles left the Americans fighting uphill against a relentless group of Russians who bested them in qualifying and ended their 11-year win streak.

Biles won four golds and one bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Games. She is considered the greatest gymnast of all time and expected Tokyo to be a crowning send off.

After being taken out of competition, Biles remained on the floor and continued to loudly cheer on and encourage her teammates. 

By Dan Wetzel

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