TOKYO (NEXSTAR) — When Simone Biles, widely considered the best gymnast in the world and a heavy favorite to win gold in the Tokyo Olympics, pulled herself out of the team competition and then the all-around, it was a shock.
Biles withdrew to focus on her mental health, saying she wasn’t in the right headspace to compete and didn’t want to risk costly mistakes for her team. On top of that, gymnastics can be dangerous — a mistake can mean serious injury.
“We definitely wanted to have her with us, but we understood what was going on,” teammate Jordan Chiles said. “We understood completely.”
While there are few who could understand the full weight of the pressure Biles was feeling, Hannah Roberts is one of them. She is the reigning world champion in freestyle BMX. On the same day Biles stepped away, Roberts pulled out of practice.
“Honestly, mentally, it’s exhausting,” Roberts said. “It’s a lot. There’s been times when I have questioned my mental health as well. You could be in top shape, but if your head is not in the right space, it doesn’t work. I guarantee for gymnastics it’s the same way, but in our sport, it’s scary because one mistake can cost you months and months of injury.”
Roberts said not having her family in Tokyo to support her is weighing on her.
She has two more days of training before she competes in the biggest event of her life.