Michael Phelps throws his support behind Simone Biles after her mental health Olympic exit


Michael Phelps has thrown his support behind fellow Olympian Simone Biles and her decision to withdraw from two events at the Tokyo Games over mental health concerns, saying athletes need more support and people they can trust. 

Phelps, who has been open about his own mental health struggles in the past and has said he contemplated suicide after the 2012 Games, appeared on NBC’s Today to say he respected Biles’ decision to withdraw. 

‘We’re human beings. We have emotions. We deal with things just like everybody else does. It’s difficult. 

‘I would say we want support, we feel the love from everybody else,’ he said. 

On Tuesday night, while giving coverage of the Games for NBC, he said: ‘Mental health over the last 18 months is something people are talking about.  

‘Nobody is perfect. So yes, it is OK not to be OK,’ adding Biles’ decision ‘broke his heart.’ 

Phelps, who has been open about his own mental health struggles in the past and contemplated suicide after the 2012 Games, appeared on NBC’s Today to say he respected Biles’ decision to withdraw

Biles is shown in the stands on Wednesday night in Tokyo after announcing she will not take part in Thursday's solo competition

Biles is shown in the stands on Wednesday night in Tokyo after announcing she will not take part in Thursday’s solo competition 

Biles, 24, who is widely considered the best gymnast of all time, has withdrawn from Thursday’s solo event after withdrawing from Wednesday’s team competition. 

It’s unclear if she will take part in the three other events that she is scheduled to participate in. 

Michael Phelps said he contemplated suicide after the 2012 Olympic Games. He said he would suffer 'intense' lows and periods of depression after the Games

Michael Phelps said he contemplated suicide after the 2012 Olympic Games. He said he would suffer ‘intense’ lows and periods of depression after the Games 

She hasn’t released a statement about the decision but on Wednesday, she retweeted another gymnast’s statement which said she’d been through enough trauma after enduring horrific sexual abuse at the hands of pedophile doctor Larry Nassar. 

He remains in prison. Biles and other gymnasts who Nassar abused have been critical of USA Gymnastics’ handling of their complaints about Nassar before he was jailed.  

On Tuesday night, Phelps, in his NBC coverage, said: ‘The easiest way for me to say this is athletes, and Olympic athletes in general. 

‘We need someone who we can trust, somebody that can let us be ourselves and listen. Allow us to become vulnerable. 

‘Somebody who’s not going to try to fix us. We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it’s challenging,’ he said. 

Phelps won 28 Olympic medals before he retired in 2016 after the Rio Games. 

Biles retweeted this message from Los Angeles fitness trainer Andrea Orris on Wednesday

Pictured: The full statement from USA Gymnastics posted on social media announcing Biles' withdrawal from the all-around competition

Pictured: The full statement from USA Gymnastics posted on social media announcing Biles’ withdrawal from the all-around competition

He later revealed he’d been battling depression and contemplated suicide after the 2012 London Olympics. 

He said he once didn’t leave his room for five days because he had fallen into such a deep depression that he felt like the ‘weakest’ person in the world.  

Will Simone Biles continue ANY of her individual events? 

She is still scheduled to take part in the finals for the vault, uneven bars, floor exercise, and balance beam. 

Should she choose to take part – and provided she gets the all-clear from USA Gymnastics – Biles’ upcoming events schedule is: 

  • SUNDAY, AUGUST 1: Vault final and uneven bars final
  • MONDAY, AUGUST 2: Floor exercise final 
  • TUESDAY, AUGUST 3: Balance beam final

Biles struggled in qualifying for these events, ending up in the eighth and final spot for uneven bars, the sixth spot for balance beam, and the second spot on floor exercise.

He said that for him, the pressure of the event was not what was difficult but the ‘intense low’ he felt afterwards. 

Since retiring, he has been a mental health advocate. He now works with the organization Talkspace. 

On Wednesday, Biles said she would not participate in Thursday night’s individual all-around final – where she was due to defend her Olympic title.

She also retweeted a statement from another gymnast which linked her decision to withdraw to the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of pedophile doctor Larry Nassar, who remains in prison for his abuse of dozens of girls, including past and present Team USA gymnasts. 

The statement read: ‘We are talking about the same girl who was molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood and teenage years. 

‘That girl has endured more trauma by the age of 24 than most people will ever go through in a lifetime.’

Biles has routinely criticized USA Gymnastics’ handling of Nassar’s abuse of the athletes. 

She has not given a statement on her withdrawal, and she has appeared on the gymnastics floor to support her teammates. 

Biles first withdrew from the team competition on Tuesday, saying she needed to focus on her mental health and wellbeing. 

She announced on Wednesday that she would also be withdrawing from Thursday’s solo competition after undergoing medical evaluation. 



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