There are the podiums, the medals gleaned by the dozen, the sequins that cover her clothes of light and, inseparable from all of this, the woman, with her strengths but also her doubts, and her scars. To everyone's surprise, this Tuesday, after her first jump in the team competition, Simone Biles suddenly retired. Injury at reception? Physical glitch? Observers at the Ariake Gymnastics Center in Tokyo and millions of viewers wondered, when the gymnastics superstar walked through the doors of the hall, to isolate himself for long minutes in the locker room after recording a note. of 13.766 points, well below his usual scores. Then at the announcement of his abandonment.
But the four-time Olympic champion from Rio has not neglected her teammates. After explaining to them what was happening to her, she stayed by their side in a tracksuit to follow the end of the competition won by Russia ahead of the United States and Great Britain and cheered them on throughout the game. competition. Cameras around the world have captured her constantly applauding them, screaming, and even bringing them the essential chalk for the apparatus. Simone Biles then climbed the podium with the Americans to receive the silver medal of Olympic vice-champion, without visibly suffering any injury. A warning sign, all the same, during qualifying this Sunday, the five-time Olympic champion had made some unusual mistakes at home.
Simone Biles: "I'm sorry. I love you guys, but you're gonna be just fine."
"You guys have trained your whole entire life for this, it's fine. I've been to an Olympics, I'll be fine. This is your first - you go out there and kick ass, okay?"
- Kendall Baker (@TheKendallBaker) July 27, 2021
The American Gymnastics Federation first explained to AFP, in an e-mail, that Simone Biles had "withdrawn from the team competition for medical reasons" without giving further details.
"I have to do what is right for me and focus on my sanity"
But the real reasons for this withdrawal came a few hours later by the voice of the 24-year-old gymnast, competing in six finals of this Olympic tournament in Tokyo. She explained that she had to deal with the "demons in (her) head" and not have so much confidence in herself. That she also felt a strong psychological pressure. “I don't know if it's a question of age. I am a little more nervous when I do my sport. I feel like I'm not having as much fun as I used to. In front of the press, shedding a few tears, she continued, "I have to do what is right for me and focus on my sanity and not compromise my health and well-being." We are also human, we need to protect our mind and body, rather than doing what the world expects of us. ".
Before this competition, Simone Biles had confided on social networks to have "the impression at times of having to support the weight of the world on (his) shoulders".
Simone Biles cheered on her teammates after withdrawing from the Women's Gymnastics Team Final ❤️
USA Gymnastics said Biles left because of a “medical issue.”
Ultimate teammate 👏 pic.twitter.com/E7AUjgN0xI
- ESPN (@espn) July 27, 2021
Placed in foster care in her childhood, like her three siblings, because of an alcoholic mother "who went back and forth in prison", she was sexually assaulted as a teenager, victim of Larry Nassar, the ex-doctor of the American women's gymnastics team sentenced heavily for hundreds of sexual assaults.
“I have never been able to count on my biological mother.
I remember I was always hungry, always scared, ”she said in 2017.
In a recent documentary, she recounts her sufferings, the violence she suffered, her hours under the covers and her numerous psychological consultations.
Before settling at the top of world gymnastics, Simone Biles, who considers herself a “survivor”, overcame many hardships and demonstrated incredible strength of character and self-sacrifice.
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His presence at the Games for the rest of the gymnastics events is now in question.
His next meeting in Tokyo is due on Thursday with the all-around competition.
Already quadruple Olympic champion, Simone Biles can join the Soviet Larissa Latynina and her nine historic gold medals on the occasion of these Olympics.
But that is no longer his priority.
This Tuesday, she said "take the days one after the other and see how it will turn out".