In the biggest upset for the United States at the Tokyo Games, Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics team competition after it had started on Tuesday, handing Russia’s squad a path to the gold medal and ending American domination of the event for more than a decade.
Speaking after the final ended, Biles said she was “okay, just dealing with some things internally which will get fixed out in the next couple of days.”
Simone Biles says she is "OK" and has been "dealing with things internally that will get fixed in the next few days."
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 27, 2021
Her choice was not connected to an injury, she said. Instead she described an almost overbearing amount of stress in the lead-up to Tuesday night.
If she had continued to compete while under such pressure and as mentally off-kilter as she felt, she said, she worried she would have risked the squad’s medal chances.
She hoped to reset with a break from practice on Wednesday and she told reporters she planned to return for Thursday’s all-around final, though she also said on Today that she was “going to take it day by day and we’re just going to see.”
In a statement to PEOPLE and other outlets, USA Gymnastics said during the event that Biles had “withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”
Biles, the reigning Olympic all-around champion and five-time medalist, initially left the floor with the team’s medical trainer Marcia Faustin following her vault routine in the final, in which she bailed on her planned Amanar vault for an easier 1.5 twist and posted a 13.766.
That was the lowest vault score of Biles’ Olympics career, an event in which she had dominated for years — until now.
Soon after leaving, Biles returned to the floor before the U.S. competed on uneven bars. She was seen hugging her teammates and, as she remained on the side, she was dressed in her white Team USA warm-up gear.
Jordan Chiles, who was in reserve for that event, replaced her.
Chiles, Suni Lee and Grace McCallum continued on with the competition but trailed the Russian athletes, their rivals.
“It was definitely something that was unexpected,” Chiles said at a press conference later Tuesday with her teammates. “We were kind of emotional when we found out that she wasn’t going to continue and, you know, we always kind of put our minds in a great position. Because at the end of the day, we’re out there to show what we needed to show and we went out there and did what we did.”
The U.S. ultimately won silver. (Great Britain won bronze.)
“For me, I’m proud for how the girls stepped up and did what they had to do. I owe this to the girls, it has nothing to do with me,” Biles told reporters. “I am very proud of them.”
Sitting next to Biles at the press conference following the final, Lee recalled the moment she told the team that she would not be competing for the rest of the final.
“I was just like, ‘We got this,’ ” Lee said. “We can go out there and show the world what we came here to do.”
Sending love and support to Simone.