American superstar Simone Biles left a second gymnastics competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday to protect her mental health, prompting serious doubts about her participation in the rest of the Games. A day after her shocking departure from the team event, USA Gymnastics said the 24-year-old had also retired from individual competition at the Ariake Gymnastics Center. The American arrived in Japan as one of the main events of the 2020 Games postponed by the pandemic, with a huge weight of expectations while pursuing a record of equality of nine Olympic titles.
But he withdrew from team competition after a tremendous opening lap, and his struggles make him unable to add to the four gold medals he won at the 2016 Rio Games.
“Following a new medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the individual final competition of the Tokyo Olympics in order to focus on her mental health,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement.
The US federation said that after the daily assessment the decision would be made whether Biles, who will be replaced by Jade Carey, will compete in individual test finals.
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her courage in prioritizing her well-being,” the statement said. “His courage demonstrates, once again, why he is a role model for so many.”
After retiring from the team event on Tuesday, in which he won a silver medal as a result of starting the final, Biles said he had to “do what’s right for me and focus on the my mental health “.
“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to, and I don’t know if it’s age,” he said. “I’m a little more nervous when I do gymnastics.”
Support for the gymnast was spread around the world after her retirement from the team final.
Michelle Obama tweeted, “Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily. @ Simone_Biles, we are proud of you and we are rooting for you. Congratulations on the silver medal, Team @USA!”
Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao tweeted, “Once champion, always champion. God bless @Simone_Biles.”
Local fans continue to agree with Tuesday’s defeat of Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who was playing her first event since retiring from the French Open, citing mental health issues.
Ledecky knocks back
Biles’ problems overshadowed the sports program on Wednesday’s fifth day of action.
Katie Ledecky, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Games, lost her 200-meter freestyle crown to Ariarne Titmus, two days after also ceding her 400-meter title to the Australian.
But she regrouped to annihilate the field in the first women’s 1500 m held at the Olympics, being more than four seconds away from her teammate Erica Sullivan.
Ledecky, 24, is the fourth swimmer to win six Olympic gold medals, with her first finish in the 800m freestyle at the 2012 London Games.
Titmus, nicknamed “Terminator”, emerges as one of the stars of the Tokyo Aquatics Center while Australia shot the medal table.
The 20-year-old, who set a new Olympic record of 1min 53.50sec, still has 800m free and the 4x200m relay for a grueling program.
Japan’s Yui Ohashi completed a double medley, winning the 200-meter dash to win with the 400-meter gold he achieved on Sunday, while world record-holder Kristof Milak achieved the men’s 200-meter gold butterfly.
The British freestyle swimmers took the morning session to an exciting climax and nearly lost the world record in the 4x200m freestyle as they overtook the Russian team by more than three seconds.
Australia also won gold medals in the men’s and four women’s rowing events to elevate its overall Olympic balance to six, moving up to fifth place in the table, with Japan and China leading the 11th.
On Wednesday, elsewhere, Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten won the women’s time trial on the route around Mount Fuji after turning red on Sunday when she mistakenly thought she had won the road race.
And Fiji, the defending seven-a-side rugby champion, hosted a surprising final against New Zealand, which will take place later.
New Zealand crushed Britain 29-7, while Fiji saw Argentina’s challenge 26-14.
After leading Russian gymnasts to win a narrow men’s selection over Japan, world champion Nikita Nagornyy will once again face home hopeful Daiki Hashimoto in the men’s competition.
In men’s basketball, the United States attacked Iran 120-66 again after falling to a strong French team for the first Olympic defeat in 17 years.
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