'It's okay sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself,' Simone Biles spoke about her mental health after withdrawing from the Olympic finals
The 24-year-old US star, lauded by many as the greatest gymnast of alltime, exited the competition floor with the team doctor after landing her vault.
USA Gymnastics in a statement released shortly afterwards said the gymnast had withdrawn from the final due to a "medical issue".
Speaking in a press conference, Biles said she decided to withdraw to work on her "mindfulness".
She continued: "I didn't want to risk the team a medal for my screw-ups because they've worked way too hard for that."
She said it has been "really stressful" this year in the Olympics.
"Not having an audience. There are a lot of different variables going into it. It's been a long week, it's been a long Olympics process, it's been a long year," she said.
"So just a lot of different variables and I think we're just a little bit too stressed out. But we should be out here having fun and sometimes that's not the case."
She continued: "I say put mental health first because if you don't, then you're not going to enjoy your sport and you're not going to succeed as much as you want to.
"So it's okay sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are, rather than just battle through it."
The US began finals on vault, with Biles going last. She was supposed to do an “Amanar,” a vault that begins with a roundoff back handspring onto the table followed by two half twists. She seemed to change her mind in mid-air, doing just one half twist instead.
She walked off the podium and was tended to by team doctor Marcia Faustin before making her way out of the arena.
Several minutes after, Biles returned with her right leg wrapped. She took off her bar grips, hugged teammates Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles before putting on a jacket and sweatpants. Chiles replaced Biles on uneven bars and balance beam.
In a statement, USA Gymnastics said: "Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue.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."
Biles arrived in Tokyo as the unquestioned gymnastics star of the Games but struggled, at least by her high standards, during qualifying.
In a social media post on Monday, she admitted she felt like the weight of the world was on her shoulders and that the Olympics “were no joke”.
Biles won five medals in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and had a chance to top that after advancing to all five finals. It remains to be seen whether she will be available for the all-around final on Thursday night and the event finals later in the Games.
The Russia Olympic Committee won the gold medal in the women's final, with the US hanging on for silver and Great Britain took third place.
The US had hoped to bounce back from a shaky performance in qualifying, when the it came in second to Russia.