US gymnast Simone Biles, who has been copping vile abuse following her decision to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics, has returned to social media for the first time, with a heartbreaking message of thank you to those who’ve supported her.
“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,” Biles wrote on Twitter.
Biles, who has won competitions with broken toes and kidney stones, is objectively one of the best athletes of her generation and a role model to those younger than her.
She is, indisputably, the greatest gymnast of all time, having won 27 gold medals, as well as having five world championship titles under her belt and four moves named after her.
Despite that, she has been viciously attacked by trolls online since she announced her decision to withdraw from the Olympics, citing mental health reasons.
“I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and wellbeing,” Biles said after the United States won silver without her on Tuesday.
“It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head.”
She has been called “weak” and “a quitter” by people who could never achieve what she has.
“Simone Biles is a quitter,” Amber Athey declared in The Spectator yesterday.
“Biles may be the most skilled gymnast ever, but a true champion is someone who perseveres even when the competition gets tough.”
Charlie Kirk, a right-wing talking head, called Biles “immature”, a “selfish sociopath” and a “shame to this country”.
“We are raising a generation of weak people like Simone Biles,” said Kirk, whose own record of strength and perseverance is limited to having dropped out of college.
“Simone Biles just showed the rest of the nation that when things get tough, you shatter into a million pieces.”
Piers Morgan accused Biles of using mental health as an excuse.
He went on to critique the people lauding her choice, saying they were celebrating “losing, failure and quitting as greater achievements than winning, success and resilience”.
“Sorry if it offends all the howling Twitter snowflake virtue signallers, but I don’t think it’s remotely courageous, heroic or inspiring to quit.”
A number of athletes and people who actually know what they are talking about have come out in support of Biles, praising her for prioritising her mental health.
Earlier this year, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Wimbledon tournament in order to prioritise her mental health.
Full Kiwi schedule below. Click on a name to see athlete’s bio, upcoming events, past Games performance and medal chance.
“Michael Phelps told me that by speaking up I may have saved a life,” she wrote in a Time essay earlier this month. “If that’s true, then it was all worth it.”
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
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