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It's been an unexpected and emotional few days for Simone Biles. The undisputed GOAT of gymnastics decided to withdraw from both the Olympic team final and the all-around competition to focus on her mental health, which prompted an outpouring of love and support among fellow athletes, fans, politicians, and celebrities.
Biles used social media to make her first comment following her all-around withdrawal on Wednesday. She's grateful for the outpouring of solidarity and understanding, and revealed how all of that support has affected her mental outlook.
The enormous amount of love she's received on social media and in the media has helped her see that she's so much more than a gymnast and a gold medalist.
Biles, 24, is the most decorated American gymnast in history. She told the media on Tuesday that she decided to withdraw from the team final due to focus and confidence issues, which can lead to injury and directly affected her performance on the only event she completed: vault. She said that she lost track of where she was in the air — a phenomenon gymnasts call the "twisties" — and somehow managed to land safely, avoiding injury.
Nastia Liukin sends heartfelt letter to Biles
Former gymnast and current NBC gymnastics commentator Nastia Liukin has said publicly that she's supportive of Biles' decision. But on Wednesday, the 2008 Olympic all-around gold medalist went farther, penning a heartfelt letter to Biles on Instagram.
Liukin thanked Biles for publicly putting her mental and physical health before competition, and for showing that awards are not as important as how you feel. She ended it with the most perfect sentiment:
"You came here as a gymnast, and you're leaving as a hero."
No one could have said it better.
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