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Aly Raisman said she was “sick to my stomach” after Simone Biles shockingly pulled out of the all-around women’s gymnastics final at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I think that Simone is the biggest story going into the Olympics, so this is just — it’s really, really devastating,” Raisman said during a virtual appearance on TODAY Tuesday.
“But I think it’s also just really important to think about how much pressure has been on her, and there’s only so much that someone can take. She’s human, and I think sometimes people forget that. And Simone, just like everyone else, is doing the best that she can,” Raisman explained, reiterating her “complete devastation” over the situation.
Biles suddenly withdrew from the women’s team final Tuesday after an uncharacteristic balk on her vault.
NBC originally reported that the 24-year-old withdrew due to a “mental issue,” while USA Gymnastics said in a statement later that it was due to a medical issue.
“Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape,” Biles told TODAY after her exit. “Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming to the Olympics and being head star isn’t an easy feat, so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’ll see.”
With Biles out of the rotation, the U.S. settled for silver at the competition behind the Russian Olympic Committee.
Raisman, a former Team USA gymnast who won three Olympic gold medals, was teammates with Biles during the 2016 Games in Rio.
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“I also am just thinking about the mental impact that this has to have on Simone,” Raisman said. “It’s just so much pressure, and I’ve been watching how much pressure has been on her in the months leading up to the Games, and it’s just devastating. I feel horrible.”
Raisman, 27, said she’s “praying” for Biles and added, “I am obviously so worried and just hoping that Simone is OK.”
Although Raisman said she was unaware of the details surrounding Biles’ sudden departure, she shed light on what gymnasts could possibly experience while in the air.
“I don’t know if she got lost in the air, or I don’t know if she got injured before and wasn’t able to complete the twist. I’m sure whenever she’s ready, she’ll tell us,” Raisman said. “But if she did get lost in the air, I do want to say that that is actually very common.”
Raisman was captain of both the 2012 “Fierce Five” and 2016 “Final Five” U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics teams, which won their respective team competitions.
“Sometimes if you’re trying to do three twists on floor, sometimes you might just breathe the wrong way, or when you’re taking off, the lights from the ceiling get into your eye and you just get confused,” she said. “I think people forget when we’re doing gymnastics, the stuff we’re doing is so difficult, and I know someone like Simone makes it look so easy, but I think people forget sometimes we’re human and sometimes we get confused.”
Pending the status of her health, Biles could still compete in the individual all-around final later this week.
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