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US Olympic gymnast says ‘we don’t owe anyone a gold medal’ after turmoil over Simone Biles withdrawal

Simone Biles leaves the floor after competing on the vault during the women's team gymnastics final Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
July 28, 2021

On Tuesday, U.S. Olympic gymnastics team member Sunisa Lee tweeted “we do not owe anyone a gold medal” after teammate Simone Biles withdrew from the team gymnastics competition in Tokyo.

Following Biles’ withdrawal from the team event, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team took the silver medal in the women’s team final. The Russian team won the gold medal in the event. Great Britain won the bronze medal.

The 18-year-old Lee tweeted, “never been prouder to be apart [sic] of such an amazing team with an amazing group of girls. we stepped up when we needed to and did this for ourselves. we do not owe anyone a gold medal, we are WINNERS in our hearts,” along with a silver heart emoji.

Earlier in the day, Lee tweeted a photo of the four U.S. women’s team gymnastics members “THE FIGHTING 4” with their silver medals.

After withdrawing from the team event, Biles told NBC’s Today, “Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape. Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat, so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’ll see.”

ESPN reported the 24-year-old Biles told reporters after the meet, “You have to be there 100 percent. If not, you get hurt. Today has been really stressful. I was shaking. I couldn’t nap. I have never felt like this going into a competition, and I tried to go out and have fun. But once I came out, I was like, ‘No. My mental is not there.'”

Following her withdrawal, USA Gymnastics tweeted, “Official statement: ‘Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.’ Thinking of you, Simone!”

In a subsequent tweet, USA Gymnastics said Biles had also withdrawn from the all-around gymnastic competition “in order to focus on her mental health.”

Biles’ withdrawal, citing mental health concerns, comes after her brother Tevin Biles-Thomas, a U.S. Army soldier, was acquitted in June of triple murder charges stemming from a New Year’s Eve 2018 shooting in Ohio.

In 2019, the Olympian gymnast said she was having a difficult time processing her brother’s charges and, “My heart aches for everyone involved, especially for the victims and their families. There is nothing that I can say that will heal anyone’s pain, but I do want to express my sincere condolences to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. I ask everyone to please respect my family’s privacy as we deal with our pain. XO.”