Simone Biles retweeted a lengthy message of support from a gymnastics coach on Wednesday as it was revealed the superstar gymnast would not compete in the individual all-around event.
Andrea Orris, who coached and competed at Illinois State and trained alongside Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy, wrote on Instagram she was shocked at the criticism levied against Biles after all the gymnast had been through in her life.
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“It makes me so frustrated to see comments about Simone not being mentally tough enough or quitting on her team,” Orris wrote before writing about how Biles was abused by convicted former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
“We are talking about the same girl who was molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood and teen years, won the world all-around championship title while passing a kidney stone, put her body through an extra year of training through the pandemic, added so much difficulty to her routines that the judges literally do not know how to properly rate her skills (because) they are so ahead of her time. All of this while maintaining her responsibilities to her endorsement deals, the media, personal relationships, etc. And some people can still honestly say, ‘Simone Biles is soft. She is a quitter.’ That girl has endured more trauma by the age of 24 than most people will ever go through in a lifetime.”
Orris then echoed similar sentiment made by Laurie Hernandez: What Biles did on her vault was incredible in its own right.
“For non-gymnasts, the fact that she 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. The fact she somehow landed on her feet shows her experience is incredible. The margin for error on a skill like that is insanely low. A very small wrong move and career-ending or even worse, life-threatening injuries can occur.”
Orris concluded: “After her track record of all she’s pushed through – the fact that she took herself out of the competition on her own merit means that what ever she is dealing with internally has to be insurmountable and should be taken seriously. Despite what she’s able/choosing to articulate to the public in interviews, we will never know or fully understand her personal choices and struggles. She does not deserve any judgment passed – number 1 because she’s a human and number 2, after all she’s done for the sport, plus all that she’s had to endure because of this sport, and the joke of an organization who protected her predator instead of her and her teammates for years.”
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Orris said whether Biles competes again in the Olympics, “she is still the GOAT!!!”
The American star Biles shocked the world when she pulled out of the event after her vault. She later told reporters her mental health was not right.
“I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” the decorated athlete told reporters.
On Wednesday, Biles dropped out of the individual all-around contest.
“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles was withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement Wednesday. “Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals. Jade Carey, who had the ninth highest score in qualifications, will participate in her place in the all-around.
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”
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Individual apparatus contests begin Sunday. It’s unclear if Biles will compete.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.