Perspectives: Simone Biles Withdraws from Olympic Gymnastics Team Final

Headline Roundup July 28th, 2021

American Olympic gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the women’s team final on Tuesday, citing concern for her mental health after she felt “the weight of the world” on her shoulders and lost herself mid-air during the competition. The U.S. team went on to win silver in the women’s team final, and Biles also withdrew from Thursday’s all-around competition. Biles’ decision garnered particularly polarized reactions: most left-leaning and non-partisan commentators supported Biles; some right-leaning commentators criticized her. USA Gymnastics responded supportively, saying, “We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being.” Meanwhile, TPUSA founder and right-wing commentator Charlie Kirk called Biles “weak,” a “shame to the country” and a “selfish sociopath” in a viral video. Biles' next event is scheduled for Sunday.

Voices in left-rated outlets were broadly supportive of Biles and increased attention on mental health, with some commentators calling her “the GOAT” (Greatest of All Time). Voices in right-rated outlets were mixed, with some voices supporting Biles and others criticizing her and her supporters for purportedly endorsing individualism instead of a team-first mentality. Some left-rated outlets also published coverage of right-wing criticism, calling it “unhinged.”

From the Left
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OPINION

It took the lowest vault score of her Olympic gymnastics career for Simone Biles to seal her position as the greatest of all time. She gave up having others judge where she might place and put herself first.

After failing to land a vault she's been nailing in competitions since 2018, Biles’ withdrew from the women’s team finals Tuesday. Instead of throwing herself into the air to do a fully extended flip while also spinning around two and a half times, she landed after only having turned around one and a half times.

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From the Right
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OPINION

As I explained last night, Simone Biles had an entirely defensible reason to pull out of the gymnastics competition, a withdrawal that has now extended to the individual all-around competition. CNN’s Elle Reeve adds to the picture of why her problem is such a big one for a gymnast:

[Biles] said in morning practice that she had a little bit of the twisties. The twisties are a mysterious phenomenon . . . Your body just won’t cooperate, your brain loses track of where you are in the air. You find out where the ground...

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From the Center
2700
OPINION

Gymnast Simone Biles chose her mental health over the possibility of a literal gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and for a lot of people that decision won't make sense.

Biles pulled out of the competition on Tuesday, and told reporters that she was concerned about the well-being of her body and mind.

The 24-year-old four-time gold medalist explained that she needed to put her mental health first. "This Olympic Games, I wanted it to be for myself when I came in — and I felt like I was still...

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