The Olympic gymnast who was expected to dominate the Tokyo Games pulled out of all team events and has now dropped out of individual events as well and will not defend her title.
Without her, the US women’s gym team lost the gold for the first time in 13 years, coming in second to Russia.
Ms Biles explained that she was not physically injured, but was feeling too emotionally shaky to go on. She said, “Once I came out here (to compete), I was like, ‘No, mental is not there so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.’”
Her last-minute withdrawal drew harsh criticism from some analysts, who accused her of being self-centered and said if she couldn’t compete, she should have let someone else take her place rather than leaving her team in the lurch. Kylee Zempel at the Federalist took that view.
Others took Biles’ side, noting that she had been one of former team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual assault victims, and people shouldn’t judge her if they don’t know what she’s going through.
One of the best commentaries was from radio host Mark Davis, who didn’t rebuke Ms Biles but considered what this says about how attitudes have softened and how the value of exhibiting mental toughness when the going gets tough is slipping away.
As for me, I will pray for Ms Biles to achieve her peace, and also root for the US Women’s Team to call on their mental toughness to succeed without her.