Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
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US gymnast Simone Biles during training. Photo: Reuters

Tokyo Olympics: US gymnastics star Simone Biles withdraws from second event, citing mental health concerns

  • Biles made headlines on Tuesday when she withdrew from the team event but has now withdrawn from the all-round individual event as well
  • The 24-year-old is unbeaten in all-around competition since 2013 and arrived seeking five more Olympic titles to equal Larisa Latynina’s career record
Superstar US gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of a second event to protect her mental health on Wednesday, putting the spotlight on athletes’ well-being at a Tokyo Olympics held under strict rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Biles, who caused shock waves with her withdrawal during the team event on Tuesday, also ditched the all-around, raising doubts about her further participation in Tokyo.

The 24-year-old American’s struggles follow those of Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, another face of the Games who lost in the third round on her return from a mental health break.

Biles, unbeaten in all-around competition since 2013 and widely touted as the ‘G.O.A.T’ (Greatest Of All Time), arrived seeking five Olympic titles to equal Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina’s career record of nine.

But this week she complained she had “the weight of the world on my shoulders” and withdrew after a single, shaky vault in the team competition. Attention will now focus on whether she will compete in her four remaining individual events.

Biles is not alone in suffering mental problems, and several athletes have complained of difficulties during coronavirus lockdowns. Australian basketball star Liz Cambage was one who skipped Tokyo fearing its “terrifying” living conditions.