Simone Biles Olympic teammates have defended her shocking decision to withdraw from the team and the all-around finals to “focus on her mental health”, stressing that the gymnast is “not a quitter” – despite admitting she’s on the ” edge of tears” when she suddenly withdrew from 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 Wednesday’s Today show — just after it was announced Biles would not be defending her all-around title. in Thursday’s final.
Chiles, who trains with Biles at her home gym in Houston, Texas, praised her teammate for putting her health and safety above all else.
‘She’s not Simone for nothing. She’s not a quitter. You’ll never see Simone go out and do what she knows she can do,” the Texan told Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie.
Speaking: Simone Biles’ teammates Grace McCallum and Jordan Chiles have defended her decision to withdraw from the team and the all-around finals at the Tokyo Olympics
Chiles, 20, who trains with Biles’s home gym in Texas, praised her for prioritizing her mental health, despite admitting she was wavering from her decision to pull out
Struggle: McCallum, 18, who became the first athlete to compete on uneven bars after Biles’ shock announcement, admitted she was ‘on the verge of tears’ due to the added pressure
Chiles admitted, however, that she was shaken by the news of Biles’ withdrawal from the final – especially as she was forced to compete in two additional events during the competition, the uneven bars and the balance beam to fill the remaining gap. . by her teammate.
“I knew in my body that I could get everything I had out of it,” she said, adding, “I did have to fill a pair of giant shoes, but I did it for a reason, I did it for her. And she was with us the whole time.’
Meanwhile, McCallum, who became the first American athlete to compete in the uneven bars in the minutes after Biles told her teammates she was withdrawing from the finals, confessed that the news had left her “on the brink of tears” — and the additional pressure 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 said. ‘I just knew I had to gymnastics, nothing more, nothing less.’
In Biles’s absence, two of her teammates were forced to step in and take her place on the uneven bars, balance beam and floor drills, with Chiles taking over the first two, while Sunisa Lee, 18, took her spot on the floor.
After the first event – jump – Team USA trailed the Russian Olympic Committee by quite a margin, which was not helped by Biles’ unusually low score of 13,766.
They managed to close the gap by putting in impressive performances on both the uneven bars and balance beam – narrowing Russia’s lead to just a few tenths of a point – but their hopes of overtaking their rivals collapsed on the final moments of the competition when Jordan fell to the ground during a practice.
News: Video from the Olympic gymnastics arena captured the moment 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 expressed fear of moving on without her
The US finished more than three points behind the Russian gymnasts, who shot to victory with a final score of 169,528 versus their rivals’ final score of 166,096.
Biles’ decision not to defend her Olympic all-around title in Thursday’s final was announced Wednesday morning in a statement shared by USA Gymnastics – but the gymnast has not yet revealed whether she plans to compete in the other four individual finals for which she will compete. qualified. .
When asked by Hoda, 56, and Savannah, 49, whether they hope she will participate, both Chiles and McCallum admitted that they would “of course” like to see her take a shot at more Olympic medals, but noted that they ‘just want what’s best for her’.
The moment Biles relayed the shocking news of her Olympic team’s final withdrawal to her devastated teammates was caught on camera — revealing how the gymnast urged her fellow athletes to continue in her stead, saying she’s “go get a kick.” **’ without hair.
Simone stunned spectators and competitors alike in Tokyo on Tuesday when she made her jump in the opening minutes of the game and announced her withdrawal moments later – expected to lead Team USA to its third straight gold medal win.
Footage from the arena shows the defending all-around champion breaking the news to her fellow gymnasts – who were reeling from the news, not least as they were then forced to get up and fill her shoes during the remaining three events.
Shortly after the team finals came to an end, Simone took to Instagram to praise her teammates for “fighting through adversity” and “standing up when she couldn’t”
Despite the devastating dismay, Simone and her teammates, Jordan (left), Grace (center right) and Sunisa (right), were all smiles when 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 jump, stunned spectators when she made a very unusual mistake in the team final, losing the skill she had planned. to do in the air.
The gymnastics GOAT was supposed to perform a Yurchenko jump with two and a half turns, but jumped out at the last second and only performed one and a half turns, resulting in a much lower starting score.
To make matters worse, Simone’s knees gave way on the landing, propelling her to the mat – though she narrowly avoided falling to the floor.
Her resulting score – 13,766 – is the lowest she has achieved in years. During the qualifiers, she achieved a score of 15,183.
Simone returned to the stadium when the dramatic news of her withdrawal was shared, pulling her tracksuit over her leotard in a move that confirmed her departure from the competition.