Simone Biles, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, will not compete in Thursday’s all-around competition after withdrawing from the team finals because of a mental health issue, according to an emailed statement from U.S.A. Gymnastics.
“Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s event finals,” the statement said.
Biles, 24, had qualified for all four event finals next week and was expected to win gold in at least three of those events. In the all-around, she was hoping to repeat her title from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles in the all-around in 53 years.
After the first event in Tuesday’s team finals, in which the U.S. team won the silver medal, Biles told her coach and a team doctor that she could not continue because she was mentally not focused enough to perform her events safely. During her vault, the first event of the night, she got lost in the air and didn’t know where her body was in relation to the ground, and was forced to perform a simpler vault than she had planned. On the landing, she bounded forward, trying to stay on her feet.
Afterward, Biles said she had been feeling increasingly stressed as the Olympics have unfolded. In the hours before the event, her body was shaking and she could not nap to relax.
Once the team event began, she realized that she was not in the right “head space” to continue because she was afraid of injuring herself, and also because she didn’t want to jeopardize the team’s chances at winning a medal. The U.S. team had dominated the sport for more than a decade before the Russians won the gold medal on Tuesday.
Jade Carey, who had the ninth highest score in qualifications, will take Biles’s place in the all-around final. It is not clear whether Biles will compete in any of the individual apparatus finals.