The previous Olympians support the decision of gymnast Simone Biles, who withdrew from the all-around singles competition at the Tokyo Games.
USA Gymnastics announced beforetime Wednesday that 24-year-old Biles will instead focus on her mental health. Biles’ selection comes a day following she was knocked out of the team final.
“We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we are human too,” Biles said on Tuesday. “So, we have to protect our minds and our bodies, instead of just going out and doing what the world wants us to do.”
Dominic Dawes, a four-time Olympic medalist, spoke with Fox News in support of Biles, praising her for her retreat — recalling her own experience as a gymnast.
“I think from the culture of sports that is packed of intimidation and silencing and control, I think it’s distinguished that this young athlete, this pioneer of the sport, is listening to her inner voice,” Dawes said.
Dawes competed from 1992 to 2000 and was part of the gold medal-winning “Magnificent Seven” team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. She also earned an individual bronze for her performance in the floor exercise, becoming the first black American woman to triumph the medal in her sport.
Dawes has said that she is sometimes “silent” when it comes to doing what is best for her mentally and physically, as she has been competing in the sport.
Dawes said she needed a burst, even though that decision wasn’t forever one she was due to make, saying “you had no control over yourself at the time.”
“Other people made the decision for you that they thought was best for you…I love that Simone is taking back control,” Dawes said.
“To do this on this distinguished platform takes courage,” she added. “There are of course people who will criticize her, but she needs to do better for her.” The fact that she says ‘no’ and ‘yes’ to herself at the age of 24, I salute her.”
“And it will not only change the culture of sports, or gymnastics, but also highlight the importance of mental health.”
Dawes also recommended tennis star Naomi Osaka for her decision to take a mental health burst from sports. Osaka withdrew from the French Open in May and skipped Wimbledon to prepare for the Olympics.
Gymnast Jade Curry, who finished ninth in the playoffs, will take Biles’ place in the all-around singles competition.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydus contributed to this report.