Star performers Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka out of action

Intro: Simone Biles, the defending champion in all-around event of women’s artistic gymnastics, withdraws to focus on her mental health

Tokyo: Star American gymnast Simone Biles expressed gratitude for the “outpouring love and support” received since her withdrawal from women’s individual all-around final in artistic gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics to focus on her mental health.

“The outpouring love and support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics, which I never truly believed before [emoticon: white heart],” said Simone in a tweet posted on Thursday.

The withdrawal of Biles from team and all-round individual events at the Tokyo Olympics ignited a social and political firestorm after rightwing commentators and trolls accused her of letting down her team and her country.

Former Olympians, celebrities, and political figures from the liberal side of the spectrum rushed to defend Biles after she was attacked from the white-dominated right for bailing out following a sub-par performance that put the US team’s medal prospect in jeopardy.

Widely considered the greatest American gymnast of all time, Biles, who is black, was expected to lead the US to a clutch of team and individual gold medals at Tokyo, after her four-gold medal performance at the Rio 2016 Games, including the individual all-around title.

Jade Carey, who had the ninth highest score in qualifications, will now participate in the individual all-around event in place of Simone.

Simone is the most successful USA gymnast of all time. She won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She had arrived for the Tokyo Olympics as one of the biggest stars of the mega event.

Earlier, four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka’s bid for a gold medal in her home country ended quickly with the world No. 2 being ousted by Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4 in the third round of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Naomi was competing in her first event since pulling out of the French Open in May.

Star American gymnast Simone Biles and four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka

Image courtesy of (NYT and New Yorker)

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