LPGA Tour star Paula Creamer pays tribute to 'courageous' Simone Biles

American gymnast withdrew from the team final in Tokyo last week to protect her mental health before returning on Tuesday to medal

Ten-time LPGA Tour winner Paula Creamer has praised Simone Bile’s courage to prioritise her mental health last week at the Olympics, citing the American gymnast’s “remarkable” resolve in taking bronze on the beam on Tuesday.

Biles, one of the most prominent athletes competing in Tokyo, withdrew from last week’s team final after suffering from “twisties” – a type of mental block encountered sometimes by gymnasts. Biles had already performed on the vault, but did not compete on any other apparatus. The 24-year-old later said she pulled out of the event in order to protect her mental health.

The decision attracted a significant amount of support for Biles, but also received some criticism. It soon prompted further debate about mental health.

On Tuesday, Biles returned to the beam on the final day of artistic gymnastics at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre and scored 14.000 to eventually take home bronze. It marked her seventh Olympic medal in total – she already has four golds, one silver and a bronze - lifting her to become the joint-most decorated American gymnast in the history of the Games alongside Shannon Miller.

Creamer, speaking later Tuesday before her debut this week at the Aramco Team Series – Sotogrande, said of her compatriot: “I can’t imagine what she went through with all of that. It was probably one of the hardest decisions in the world to sit out. As an athlete, you think you can do anything, especially someone who is ‘GOAT’, the greatest of all time. That must have taken a lot of courage, and probably time to come to think about that and say, ‘This is what I’m doing’.

“I take my hat off to her for embracing that. And then she went out and took bronze in beam, which is remarkable as well. Going through that, and everybody criticising the decisions, it’s tough. It’s hard.”

Creamer, 34, is in her 16th year on the LPGA Tour. The 2010 US Women’s Open winner returned to the circuit in May to make her first start since October 2019, as she battled back from wrist and thumb injuries. Creamer, who last month announced she is expecting her first child, said the time away allowed her to focus on both the physical and mental side of golf. On Tuesday, she welcomed how the spotlight in elite-level sport is being shone more brightly on mental health.

“With my career I’ve been pretty fortunate that nobody’s ever really sat there and dissected my whole career and my decisions that I have made,” said Creamer, a seven-time United States Solheim Cup star. “But it is a part of it. It’s been a part of every athlete for so long.

“It’s just amazing now that we’re all touching upon it these past several years. It’s obviously very apparent this year. But it has been going on for so long. And it’s amazing that it’s taken this long for people to actually see it.”

Updated: August 4th 2021, 3:03 AM