Michelle Obama has led support for US gymnast Simone Biles after she pulled out of the women’s team final at the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health reasons.
The athlete stepped back from the competition after the US team’s first rotation on vault on Tuesday, and has since decided to withdraw from Thursday’s women’s all-around final.
In an interview with reporters after Team USA took home the silver medal, Simone said: “Whenever you get in a high-stress situation, you kind of freak out. I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and well-being.
“We have to protect our body and our mind,” she added. “It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head.”
The former First Lady was among those to show their support for Simone online, tweeting: “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 the silver medal, Team @USA!”
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) July 28, 2021
BBC Sports presenter Gary Lineker also tweeted on Wednesday: “As a former sportsperson that was fortunate enough to not suffer with mental health issues, it’s hard to comprehend what it must be like for those that do.
“For those that have never participated in elite level sport, it must be even harder to understand… you’d have thought.”
As a former sportsperson that was fortunate enough to not suffer with mental health issues, it’s hard to comprehend what it must be like for those that do. For those that have never participated in elite level sport, it must be even harder to understand… you’d have thought. 🤔
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) July 28, 2021
There were many others who voiced their support of Simone on Twitter...
Don’t know about you but I think @Simone_Biles just empowered everyone to put their mental well-being above everything else. WHAT A QUEEN. GOAT in more ways than one. ♥️
— Danusia Francis (@danusiafrancis) July 27, 2021
There are types of people in this world: those who have sympathy for #SimoneBiles and a bunch of fucking assholes.
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) July 28, 2021
— Max Whitlock MBE (@maxwhitlock1) July 28, 2021
We need to talk about how female athletes are treated in sport. Simone Biles, arguably the best gymnast of all time pulling out of an event because she recognised she wasn’t able to compete. If she’d hurt herself physically you KNOW the narrative would be different.
— Alice (@Aliceliveing_) July 28, 2021
Earlier this morning on #OlympicBreakfast@mrdanwalker and I spoke about #SimoneBiles and #MentalHealth prior to news breaking that she has now withdrawn from the individual all-round event. #BBCOlympics#Tokyo2020#Olympicspic.twitter.com/HzwbwnLHr1
— Samantha Quek (@SamanthaQuek) July 28, 2021
Recently I interviewed the psychologist father of a high profile sports person, and it turned out the mental anguish this person suffered, as well as obviously being horrific in itself, directly manifested itself in injury.
Basically: support #SimoneBiles
Don't be a clown.
— Richie Driss (@RichieDriss) July 28, 2021
Recent mental health statements by @naomiosaka and now @Simone_Biles are important for the continuing uphill fight to get parity between physical and mental health. Only by changing attitudes will we change the minds of policy makers and health systems around the world. 1/4
— ALASTAIR CAMPBELL (@campbellclaret) July 28, 2021
Simone’s teammate Sunisa Lee also said: “We were all so stressed. We honestly didn’t know in that moment. She’s freaking Simone Biles. She carries the team basically. When we kind of had to step up to the plate and do what we had to do, it was very hard and stressful. But I’m very proud of us because we did that.”
On replacing Simone, USA Gymnastics’ Jordan Chiles added: “That was a huge thing. When I was told that I had to put my grips on, I was just like O-M-G. Those were definitely some big shoes that I had to fill and I’m very happy that I was able to do that.
“Yes, she is the GOAT (‘Greatest Of All Time’). I was able to show the world that not only can you fill amazing people’s shoes but we also did this together as well.”
USA Gymnastics said Simone is yet to decide whether to withdraw from her four individual finals, which are scheduled to take place next week.
In a statement, USA Gymnastics said: “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition.
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”
Simone won four gold medals in Rio in 2016 and was aiming to become the first gymnast to retain a female all-around title at the Games since Vera Caslavska in 1968.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.