Simone Biles: I’m not going to lose a medal for this country and for these girls

Yahoo Sports National Columnist Dan Wetzel reports from Tokyo on the scene inside the Ariake Gymnastics Centre as American superstar Simone Biles pulled out of the Team Final after her first vault. Biles said her mental health was affecting her performance and she decided pulling out of the event was what was best for the team. Team USA gymnasts Grace McCallum, Jordan Chiles and Suni Lee finished the event and brought home the Silver without their captain.

Video Transcript


LIZ LOZA: I'm currently with "Yahoo Sports" national columnist Dan Wetzel, who is in Tokyo and was in the Ariake gymnastics Stadium when Simone Biles took the vault. Dan, what's the current mood? Or what was the current mood at the Ariake Center?

DAN WETZEL: Well, originally, it was shock. First off, she didn't attempt the more challenging vault she was going to do. Then she was going to do a Yurchenko 2 and 1/2, but she only got 1 and 1/2 rotations. It's probably the worst vault she's done in 10 years. Her teammates were shocked. Everyone was surprised. It was a very low score. She came off, and she was in near tears, and then you saw a lot of talking. They took her off for a few moments. She came back in. It looked like she was going to return to try to do the uneven bars, then she took off her wraps, and that was it. She retired from the night.

She said after to us that she was just not in the right head space. There was so much pressure going on in her mental health, and she just wasn't ready to do it. And she said, quote, "I wasn't going to lose this country a medal. I wasn't going to lose these other girls a medal. They had worked too hard." She had three teammates who could step up and do a better job than she felt she was going to do the rest of the way, and they did. They delivered a silver medal, which considering the very, very strong performance for the Russians, was about as well as they were going to do. So she just said, I don't have it. I'm going to get injured. I'm not going to help the team. This isn't me tonight. And I know it's bizarre to hear the greatest of all-time do that on such a big night, but that's where Simone Biles was that.

LIZ LOZA: Did she look physically hampered or unsettled ahead of the vault?

DAN WETZEL: No, she had no physical injuries at all. She was fine physically, but it's a mental thing. She can walk out of bed and do these jumps. It's all about does she have the courage to do it, does she trust herself, does she sense where she's at in the air, which is a big thing, of the awareness while you're spinning through the air, can you land, and all that. She didn't have it. And she thought she was going to have it today. She's been dealing with a lot of stuff. She felt good through warmups, but once she got out there after that first vault, she said, I'm going to cost the team. I'm going to get injured. I'm not going to perform tonight. Let's get out of the way.

LIZ LOZA: Dan, were you able to speak to Simone after the competition?

DAN WETZEL: Yes, and after the competition, she said it was her mental health. She wasn't in the right headspace. She was in times in tears, in times laughing, in times hugging her teammates, and appreciating, and cheering on. It was a very unique situation, the first time you've seen something like that. So there's times when she said she felt immense pressure and disappointment that she really wanted this to be for herself, and since she had gotten to Tokyo, she felt like she was doing this for everybody else-- all the expectations, the sponsors, the whole thing. And she struggled and cried a little bit during that part. At other points, she was laughing about how great the others did.

LIZ LOZA: Speaking of her teammates, Grace, Jordan, and Suni, did any of them show any emotion good, bad, otherwise? Or were you able to speak with any of them after the competition?

DAN WETZEL: Yeah, so they all spoke-- they were all at first emotional about, is Simone all right? Everybody who knows Simone Biles knew on that first vault that something was terribly wrong. Jordan Chiles had to immediately-- she was not going to perform on even bars. She had to immediately put her hands in wraps and come out and do an uneven bar routine. Suni Lee was not going to do floor, and she hadn't warmed up or practiced floor at all today, and she had to step out there and do it, all while trying to win a silver medal and chase an excellent Russian team.

So there was all sorts of emotions. Is Simone all right? And then Simone stays on the sidelines, and becomes like the coach and the cheerleader, and is encouraging them all. Purely in a sports construct, this was an amazing thing to watch, the teammates stepping up. This is their hero. Suni Lee talks about having Simone Biles posters on her wall, and now she's her teammate. They have to step up and try to do this and so to win the silver medal was very, very impressive for all of them.

LIZ LOZA: From your perspective, what's the likelihood that we see Simone compete in either the all around final or the individual events?

DAN WETZEL: So she said she's going to take it day by day. Her coaches said there'll be professional help tomorrow morning here in Japan, so she's going to seek out as much resources as she possibly can. And she says this is going to be a day by day decision, and she hopes certainly to compete in all around and all four of the individual finals that she qualified for. But there's no guarantees that she'll do it. There's no guarantee she'll complete it. No one really knows. Simone Biles is in charge of this, and she's very, very focused on doing what's best for her.

LIZ LOZA: Thank you. We got Dan Wetzel in Tokyo. Appreciate all of your hard work covering these games for us at "Yahoo Sports."

DAN WETZEL: Thanks, Liz. Appreciate it.