In a first look exclusive to E! News, the 24-year-old superstar gymnast chatted in her Houston, Texas hometown with mom Nellie Biles following the Tokyo Games. During the interview, which is exclusively available in full on AthletaWell on Monday, Aug. 30, Simone discussed her decision to withdraw midway through the gymnastics team final to focus on her mental health and then sit out all subsequent competition until returning for the balance beam final.
“I definitely had the team in my best interest, and that’s why I decided to pull out,” Simone said. “I didn’t want to potentially lose a medal spot for them. Because the girls were more than prepared to go in and to do their job, which they did.”
According to the athlete, her mental health issues started even before she arrived in Tokyo, and she attributes a “stress factor” that built up over time before her body and my mind couldn’t move forward with the competition. Despite her Tokyo struggles, Simone picked up two medals: a silver from the team final and a bronze from her beam performance.