The decorated gymnast decided to exit from the competition because "it hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people."
Citing mental health reasons, decorated gymnast Simone Biles chose to exit from the Tokyo Olympics on July 27, 2021, throwing light on the toll that competing on such a global platform takes on athletes. It's definitely not going to be easy to compete with the hopes and expectations of countless people weighing on their shoulders. "Physically, I feel good, I'm in shape," she told Hoda Kotb exclusively on TODAY.
"Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn't an easy feat, so we're just trying to take it one day at a time and we'll see."
“I feel like I’m also not having as much fun. This Olympic Games, I wanted it to be for myself, but I came in and I felt like I was still doing it for other people. It hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people," Biles added.
Soon after the announcement, TV host Piers Morgan felt like he just had to comment on the issue and he tweeted: "Are ‘mental health issues’ now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? What a joke. Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time. Kids need strong role models not this nonsense."
Are ‘mental health issues’ now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? What a joke.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 27, 2021
Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time.
Kids need strong role models not this nonsense.
Then, in a column he wrote for Daily Mail, Morgan added that Biles quit after the first mistake she made during the Tokyo Olympics. "The world's greatest ever gymnast, a woman who proudly told me how she fought back after making big mistakes to win Gold, just gave up at the first hurdle of these Olympics." He then wrote that there's nothing worth applauding about walking out of a competition, saying, "I don't think it's remotely courageous, heroic or inspiring to quit."
He shared the column on his social media, and captioned it: "Sorry Simone Biles, but there’s nothing heroic or brave about quitting because you’re not having ‘fun’ – you let down your team-mates, your fans and your country."
Soon enough, his Tweet and his article gained attention, but not for the reason he expected. People couldn't help but point out that the former Good Morning Britain host has a penchant for criticizing women of color for their choices, like tennis star Naomi Osaka and Meghan Markle. As always, Morgan had an answer to this as well, and he Tweeted: "Is it that I only write about people smaller than me? Or are you suggesting that my criticism of Simone Biles quitting has something to do with skin colour again… because if you are, just say so."
Woke Twitter believes if it screams enough abuse at me, I'll roll over, accept they're right (they never are) and become as weak, whiny & failure-celebrating as them.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 28, 2021
Spoiler alert: I won't.
Others also reminded him that he walked out of his talk show—while he was on air—because he didn't like what his colleague said. Apparently, he believes that he was criticized with no mercy when he did it, but when Biles allegedly let down the hopes of so many people, everyone seems to be okay with it.
"Twitter when I walked off GMB because I was a bit stressed out: 'YOU'RE A PATHETIC, GUTLESS, COWARDLY, WEAK, SHAMEFUL FAILURE! MAN UP!" wrote Morgan. "Twitter when their favourite athletes quit because they're a bit stressed out: 'YOU'RE A BRAVE INSPIRING, ICONIC HERO!'"
Piers Morgan on Simone Biles: "there’s nothing heroic or brave about quitting because you’re not having ‘fun’ – you let down your team-mates, your fans and your country."— Matt Haze (@MattHaze) July 28, 2021
Also Piers Morgan: pic.twitter.com/KX6e2GC7FT
However, a while after his column blew up, he shared a photo of him with Biles—from when she appeared on the show two years ago—and encouraged her to return to the contest. "You can either listen to snowflake Twitter, @Simone_Biles- or listen to me," he wrote. "You're a great champion, & great champions get back on their feet when they get knocked down. So, re-engage in these Games, win Gold, & inspire with the power of resilience not resignation. Go for it."
It probably took a lot of courage for someone as talented as Biles to walk away from the Tokyo Olympics, and instead of commending her for putting her mental health first, people like Morgan think it's okay to belittle them. But thankfully, there are good souls who've stood by Biles, and for that, she is grateful to them.
the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before. 🤍— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) July 29, 2021
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) Laurence Griffiths (R) Frazer Harrison