Two-time Olympian Aly Raisman joined in on the messages of support for U.S. gymnastics star Simone Biles, who pulled out of her team’s competition due to her mental health, saying she was “proud" of her former teammate.
Raisman, who along with Biles won a gold medal in the gymnastics team event at the Rio Olympics in 2016, told CNN’s Jake Tapper Tuesday that she was “completely devastated” to hear about how much Biles was struggling with the intense pressure placed on her to come out on top in Tokyo.
“I think coming from the U.S. where we are lucky to have so many incredible, successful athletes, there’s this pressure that we have to win and that if we don’t win, it’s this fear of, ‘What if we disappoint people? What if people don’t like us anymore?'” Raisman explained.
Raisman went on to say that it can be especially dangerous for elite gymnasts to compete if they are not in the best mindset to do so.
“There is so much room for error,” she said. “Even breathing at the wrong time or running a little bit too fast, it’s so easy roll your ankle or to hyperextend your knee or get lost in the air.”
“It’s really dangerous to say, ‘I feel really off today, I’m just going to ignore that and push myself anyways,’ and that’s when injuries can occur,” she added.
“I can’t imagine how hard that was for her to pull out today, but I’m proud of her,” Raisman said, adding that Biles “knows her body better than anyone else and she knows her mind better than anyone else.”
USA Gymnastics first announced early Tuesday that Biles had withdrawn from the team competition “due to a medical issue,” though Biles later specified in a press conference after her team took the silver medal that it was her mental health that fueled her decision to pull out.
“At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me,” Biles said. “It just sucks that it happened at the Olympic Games.”
The 24-year-old athlete, who has also qualified for the gymnastics all-around competition and each of the individual apparatus contests, said that she would be taking it “a day at a time” to determine if she is ready to compete.
Public figures from fellow athletes to politicians also commended Biles for using the Olympic stage to openly discuss her mental health, with White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care — FDA panel backs boosters for some, but not all White House to host global COVID-19 summit next week Overnight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France MORE saying that Biles was "still the GOAT," or greatest of all time.
"Gratitude and support are what Simone Biles deserves," Psaki tweeted.
Utah Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyWarren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack Overnight On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — GOP senator: It's 'foolish' to buy Treasury bonds Democrats aim for maximum pressure on GOP over debt ceiling MORE (R) also tweeted praise for Biles, writing, "I love and admire Simone Biles and our Olympians.”
"Beyond their determination and sacrifice, they evidence the greatness of the human spirit, in victory and in defeat,” he continued. "I take pride in them, not so much for the medals they win as for the grace, humanity & character of their hearts."