Is Simone Biles OK? After gymnast's Olympics exit over mental health, birth mom backs her
Champion US gymnast Simone Biles shocked the world after she announced her decision to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics 2020, just ahead of the Team USA final event. The seven-time Olympic medalist cited mental health concerns as the reason for her unprecedented decision, insisting that she needed to "focus on her wellbeing". She added, "We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do....And you know, there's more to life than just gymnastics." The star athlete made an uncharacteristic vault error before announcing her decision.
The 24-year-old gymnast has now received the unconditional support of her biological mother Shanon Biles, who felt that her daughter was going to be fine. "She's gonna be OK," Shanon Biles told Daily Mail, after her daughter's decision raised alarms across the world of sports. Presently, team USA is being represented in Tokyo by first-time Olympians Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, and Sunisa Lee.
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Announcing her decision to withdraw from the Olympics, Simone Biles stated, "I'm OK. Just dealing with some things internally which will get fixed out in the next couple of days."
She added, "It is very unfortunate that it has to happen at this stage because I definitely wanted this Olympics to go a little bit better but again, we'll take it one day at a time and we're going to see how the rest goes." It is believed that the star gymnast might compete again in individual competition in the later stage of the Olympic Games.
Amid overwhelming speculations and concerns about the record-breaking athlete, her birth mother Shanon Biles has come forward to express solidarity with her decision. The 49-year-old had struggled with drug addiction in the past during Simone Biles' childhood. Her drug abuse led to Simone and her three siblings ending up in foster homes when they were young.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Simone was the third among the four children of Shanon Biles. When she was barely three years old, she and her younger sister Adria were taken in by their maternal grandfather, Ron Biles. Shanon Biles' father Ron and his second wife Nellie Cayetano became devoted parents to Simone and her sister. The two young girls were raised with love and care at their home in Spring, a suburb in Houston, Texas.
At the age of 6, Simone was formally adopted by Ron Biles and Nellie Cayetano, along with her sister Adria. Meanwhile, her older siblings Ashley and Tevin were adopted by Ron's sister Harriett Thomas. Throughout these years, their biological mother Shanon faced her own battle with chronic drug abuse.
Speaking later about the past, Shanon had shared, "It was hard to give up my kids but I had to do what I had to, I wasn't able to care for them. It took me six years before I saw my children again. I was respecting my dad to let the kids' transition, he felt that was the best thing for them."
She added, "I was still using, and he didn't want me coming in and out of their lives when I wasn't right. I was hard-headed, I didn't care, screaming, 'I want to see my kids, why you doing this to me? I didn't understand it at the time but years later, I understood why. I had to deal with me first.'
Following Simone's stellar performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, her mother revealed that she was yet to open up personally to her about her childhood. "I want to tell her what really happened when I was younger but I keep on waiting for the right time. My dad and his wife, they don't let me talk about it. And I want to keep that respect. I don't want to overstep my boundaries with my dad because I appreciate everything he has done."
Shanon, who had been sober and healthy since 2007, also shared how she always supports Simone with brief words of encouragement like "I'm proud of you" or "You go girl". Meanwhile, Simone Biles had appeared visibly stressed at the Tokyo Olympics, and admitted that the high expectations from everyone added the weight of the world on her shoulders. "Physically, I feel good, I'm in shape. Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment," she shared after pulling out.
"Coming to the Olympics and being head star isn't an easy feat, so we're just trying to take it one day at a time and we'll see," she added while stressing the importance of mental health in sports. "I have to focus on my mental health. I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now," said Simone Biles.