Tokyo waits on Simone Biles decision to carry on record Olympic bid

American gymnast sensationally pulled out of team event citing mental health

Day five of the Olympics had an anxious feel to it as Tokyo held its collective breath as it awaits news on whether American superstar Simone Biles will return to competition following her stunning exit from the women's gymnastics team event on Tuesday.

Biles' quest to become the greatest female Olympian took a dramatic twist when she dropped out of the women's team event after receiving a low mark for her one vault.

The 24-year-old said the pressure of living up to expectations and her quest for a record six gold medals had left her no choice but to drop out for her own mental health.

Her schedule is clear for Wednesday but it remains to be seen whether Biles will return to competition starting with Thursday's all-around event where she would defend her Olympic title.

"After the performance I did I just didn't want to go on," said Biles, who picked up her sixth Olympic medal for being part of the US squad that went on to place second behind Russia.

"We are going to see about Thursday."

Biles, who is also qualified for the individual apparatus finals on Sunday, told NBC television's Today programme she would assess her readiness to compete on a "day-by-day" basis.

"Physically, I feel good, I'm in shape. We're going to take it day by day, and we're just gonna see."

Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum guided the US to silver while Biles cheered from the sideline in a white sweatsuit, at peace with a decision that revealed a shift not only in Biles but perhaps the sport she’s redefined.

“We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we’re human, too,” Biles said. “So, we have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”

International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams said on Wednesday the IOC has "huge respect and support" for Biles.

Adams said mental health remained a big issue and that it was a matter the organisation had been working on for some time.

IOC President Thomas Bach was seen in deep conversation with Biles on the floor of the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on Tuesday before handing out medals.

Biles had qualified for all six gymnastics event finals and a sweep of the gold medals would have given her 10 over two Summer Games, making her the most accomplished woman Olympian in any sport.

Updated: August 1st 2021, 11:41 AM
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