Simone Biles Olympic teammates have defended her shock decision to pull out of the team and all-around finals in order to ‘focus on her mental health’, insisting that the gymnast is ‘not a quitter’ – despite admitting that they were left on the ‘verge of tears’ when she suddenly pulled out of the team event on Tuesday.
Jordan Chiles, 20, and Grace McCallum, 18, spoke out about the 24-year-old’s sensational withdrawal from two Olympic finals during an interview on the Today show on Wednesday – moments after it was announced that Biles would not defend her all-around title in Thursday’s final.
Chiles, who trains alongside Biles at her home gym in Houston, Texas, praised her teammate for putting her health and safety above all else.
‘She’s Simone for a reason. She’s not a quitter. You will never see Simone go out there and not do what she knows she can do,’ the Texan told Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie.
Speaking out: Simone Biles’ teammates Grace McCallum and Jordan Chiles have defended her decision to withdraw from the team and all-around finals at the Olympics in Tokyo
Chiles, 20, who trains with Biles are her home gym in Texas, praised her for prioritizing her mental health, despite admitting she was left reeling by her decision to withdraw
Struggle: McCallum, 18, who was the first athlete to compete on uneven bars after Biles’ shock announcement, admitted that she was ‘on the verge of tears’ because of the added pressure
However, Chiles admitted that she was left reeling by the news of Biles’ withdrawal from the final – particularly as she was forced to compete in two additional events, the uneven bars and the balance beam, during the competition in order to fill the gap left by her teammate.
‘I knew in my body that I could pull out everything I had,’ she said, adding: ‘I did have to fill some humungous shoes but I did it for a reason, I did it for her. And she was there with us the whole time.’
Meanwhile McCallum, who was the first US athlete to compete on the uneven bars in the minutes after Biles told her teammates that she was pulling out of the final, confessed that she was left ‘on the verge of tears’ by the news – and the added pressure that was placed on her and the other two Team USA athletes as a result.
‘It was a lot of pressure, my heart was beating about a million miles an hour and I was on the verge of tears,’ the gymnast shared. ‘I just knew I had to do my gymnastics, nothing more, nothing less.’
In Biles’ absence, two of her teammates were forced to step in and take her place in the uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise events, with Chiles taking on the first two, while Sunisa Lee, 18, filled her spot on the floor.
Following the first event – vault – Team USA was trailing the Russian Olympic Committee by a fairly large margin, which was not helped by Biles’ uncharacteristically low score of 13.766.
They managed to close the gap by putting up impressive performance on both the uneven bars and the balance beam – narrowing Russia’s lead to just a few tenths of a point – but their hopes of overtaking their rivals came crashing down in the final moments of the competition when Jordan suffered a fall on the floor exercise.
The US ended up finishing more than three points behind the Russian gymnasts, who surged to victory with a final score of 169.528 over their rivals’ end result of 166.096.
News: Video from inside the Olympic gymnastics arena captured the moment that Biles told her teammates she was withdrawing from the final
Shock: Her teammates, Sunisa Lee, 18, McCallum, and Chiles seemed stunned by the news – and they quickly voiced their fear about going on without her
The moment that Biles delivered the shock news of her Olympic team final withdrawal to her devastated teammates was caught on camera – revealing how the gymnast urged her fellow athletes to carry on in her stead, telling them to ‘go and kick a**’ without her.
Simone stunned spectators and competitors alike in Tokyo on Tuesday when she flubbed her vault in the opening minutes of the competition, and then announced her withdrawal just moments later – having been expected to lead Team USA to its third consecutive gold medal win.
Footage from inside the arena shows the defending all-around champion delivering the news to her fellow gymnasts – who were left reeling by the news, not least because they were then forced to step up and fill her shoes in the remaining three events.
Shortly after the team final came to a close, Simone took to Instagram to praise her teammates for ‘fighting through adversity’ and ‘stepping up when she couldn’t’
Despite the devastating upset, Simone and her teammates, Jordan (left), Grace (center right), and Sunisa (right), were all smiles as they received their silver medals
Simone, who made history earlier this year when she became the first-ever female gymnast to perform the incredibly risky and complicated Yurchenko double pike vault, stunned spectators when she made a very uncharacteristic error in the team final, bailing out of the skill she had planned to do while in mid-air.
The gymnastics GOAT was supposed to execute a Yurchenko vault with two-and-a-half twists, but bailed out at the last second and only performed one-and-a-half twists, resulting in a much lower starting score.
To add insult to injury, Simone’s knees then buckled on the landing, propelling her towards the mat – although she narrowly avoided falling to the ground.
Her resulting score – 13.766 – is the lowest she has received in years. During qualifications, she received a score of 15.183.
Simone returned to the stadium as the dramatic news of her withdrawal was shared, putting on her tracksuit over her leotard in a move that confirmed her exit from the competition.