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Olympic gold champion Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from the gymnastics team final and not defend her all-around gold medal has been praised by both Hollywood and fellow athletes alike.
Hitting back at negative criticism from the likes of conservative pundit Charlie Kirk, who branded Biles a “shame to the country,” and Piers Morgan, came a world of support from those who believe the 4-time gold medalist did the right thing.
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Fellow Olympian Dominique Moceanu is among the recent supporters of Biles, as she posted a video to Twitter documenting the injuries she endured as a 14-year-old competing in a floor exercise routine.
Moceanu tweeted, “I was 14 y/o w/ a tibial fracture, left alone w/ no cervical spine exam after this fall. I competed in the Olympic floor final minutes later. Simone Biles decision demonstrates that we have a say in our own health – ‘a say” I NEVER felt I had as an Olympian.”
Moceanu trained coaches Marta and Béla Károlyi, whose ruthless style and employment of now convicted sex offender doctor Larry Nassar was the subject of the documentary “Athlete A.” Biles, who also trained under the Károlyis as a member of the U.S. National team, was one of the many Nassar survivors and has demanded justice with her fellow athletes.
The Olympian added, “In our sport, we essentially dive into a pool with no water. When you lose your ability to find the ground – which appears to be part of Simone Biles’ decision – the consequences can be catastrophic. She made the right decision for the team and herself.”
Former gymnast of the “Magnificent Seven” Kerri Strug (another athlete coached by the Károlyis) tweeted, “Sending love to you Simone Biles – Team UNITED States of America.”
Michael Phelps expressed similar support for Biles, saying in an interview, “We’re human beings. Nobody is perfect. So yes, it is okay to not be okay.” The Olympian has been open about the scrutiny and mental burden athletes competing in the world competition deal with in his documentary “The Weight of Gold.”
Hollywood also showed support for the champion with shout outs from all over, including encouragement from actress Kerry Washington.
“When you win the USA 5 Gold Medals and 1 Silver Medal, you deserve to take some time for yourself. Simone Biles, WE LOVE YOU.”
Former First Lady Michelle Obama added, “Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily. Simone Biles, we are proud of you and we are rooting for you. Congratulations on the silver medal, Team USA!”
Priyanka Chopra-Jonas went on Instagram calling Biles a role model and a champion writing, ” I had the joy of getting to know Simone Biles a few years ago, and she blew me away then with her vulnerability and self awareness. Simone, yesterday we were reminded why you are truly the GOAT, and why nothing supersedes taking care of ourselves…body AND mind. I cannot fathom the impossible pressure you all perform under, but knowing where you need to draw the line and step away – TO CHOOSE YOURSELF – is most important. Only when we are okay can we perform at our best, and enjoy doing so. Thank you for helping normalize that even under tremendous pressure, it’s ok to be human. Thank you for your courage and strength. You are a role model, and just like the rest of the world I’m so inspired and awed by you. Once again you have shown us what it truly means to be a champion.”
Comedian Chelsea Handler also took to Twitter. “Simone Biles drew a boundary for herself and her health on the world stage. This is real superhuman strength, setting an example for all of us.”
“How to Get Away With Murder” star Jack Falahee also expressed concern. “Scrolling through Twitter and the criticism of Biles’ decision to withdraw seems to be largely coming from men. Guys, we need to do better supporting women and their mental health. Proud of Simone and her teammates. #SimoneBiles.”
Support for Biles ranged outside of Hollywood, with political strategist Atima Omara offering praise to both Biles and Naomi Osaka.
“One thing I am proud of is Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka are of the generation of Black women who are saying ‘you are not gonna put your load on me until I break.’ They are at the top of their game, but folks think nothing of working Black women until they are beyond exhausted.”
Along with Omara were more voices finding patterns in Biles’ discourse and other Black women.
Liz Dwyer tweeted, “Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Meghan Markle…Basically in the year 2021, we Black women are refusing to be anybody’s mental health mule. Love to see it.”
Evette Dionne added, “It’s impossible to understand the pressure Simone Biles – the greatest gymnast in the history of the sport – and Naomi Osaka are feeling, but we’re lucky to live in a time where young Black trailblazers are publicly prioritizing their mental health above all else. That’s power.”
Shannon Miller expressed the same sentiment. “Black women experience what Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas have gone through publicly. ‘Loved’ when we seem willing to break ourselves apart for our work. Vilified when we show that we’re just human. Like hellish clockwork.”
More simply, Jason Kander added, “Simone Biles doesn’t owe you a damn thing.”
On Wednesday night, Simone Biles responded to the outpouring of support on Twitter, writing: “The outpouring of love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”
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