Mental health experts applaud Simone Biles' tough decision at Tokyo Games

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Many consider Simone Biles to be the greatest American gymnast ever. She's on the world's biggest stage right now and putting her mental health and vulnerability out there for all us of to see. Experts say that's a good thing.

Biles said it was all just too much Tuesday in Tokyo. The feeling she had, even hours before Team USA hit the floor, was a nervousness she could not explain. Everyone remembers what Biles achieved five years ago at the games in Rio -- hauling home four golds and a silver medal. But on Tuesday, Biles said she simply didn't have the mental focus and couldn't compete with her teammates against Russia in the finals.



Some are calling Biles a role model for prioritizing her mental health.

Duke University Director of Sports Psychology and Leadership Programming Greg Dale told ABC11 that the Biles news provides a lesson in mental-health awareness and an opportunity to exercise our own empathy.

"For many athletes and performers, it's one thing to get there. But now, it's a challenge to maintain that and to deal with all of those expectations, the scrutiny and the consequences if you don't do well," Dale said. "If you've never been there, it's really hard to understand that and empathize."

Twitter was flooded with support for Biles from athletes and celebrities. Retired gold medalist Aly Raisman tweeted, "Just a friendly reminder: Olympic athletes are human & they're doing the best they can."



Retired U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon tweeted, "it easy to forget she's still human. We love you."



Team USA finished second to Russia after Biles bowed out.

She said she's not physically injured. So, if she wants a second shot -- Biles can have it.

She said she'll regroup and decide whether she can continue to the individual events.
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