Simone Biles acknowledged an "outpouring" of love and support Wednesday following her unexpected exit from events at the Tokyo Olympics. Meanwhile, Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz is backtracking on his harsh criticism of the 24-year-old gymnast.
- In a since-deleted tweet, Reitz shared video of Kerri Strug performing at the 1996 Olympics on an injured ankle, per KHOU. "Contrast this with our selfish, childish national embarrassment," he wrote of Biles—a Texas resident and the most-decorated American gymnast of all time.
- Reitz apologized Wednesday afternoon, distancing his comments from the office he holds. "In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I opined on subjects for which I am not adequately versed," he wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. "That was an error. I can't imagine what Simone Biles has gone through," he added, calling her "a true patriot and one of the greatest gymnasts of our time."
- Biles soon issued a tweet of her own. "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," she wrote. She also favorited tweets discussing the dangers she faced if not entirely in the right mindset, per BuzzFeed.
- Biles described suffering from "the twisties," a dangerous sensation of losing oneself in the air, during a vault routine. Deanna Hong, a producer on a docuseries about Team USA gymnasts, said former US elite gymnasts told her they would've "blown a knee, at minimum" or "ended up paralyzed" if they'd been in the same situation as Biles, who landed on her feet, unharmed.
- While Biles was widely praised for prioritizing her wellbeing, she also had plenty of critics unhappy with her decision to "work on my mindfulness" in the aftermath. Conservative activist Charlie Kirk called Biles "a selfish sociopath" and a "shame to the country," per Salon, while Piers Morgan tweeted that "no GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) would quit on their teammates like that."
- US distance swimmer Diana Nyad admitted a change of heart in a Washington Post op-ed. Though she initially saw Biles' withdrawal as "unsportsmanlike," a wound to her team, it was really "a historic sacrifice," Nyad writes. Believing "her teammates had a better chance of scoring well without her," Biles gave "another gifted athlete a chance to go for medals, to chase the dreams they've worked so hard for."
- Other supporters rallied to Biles' defense, highlighting her four Olympic gold medals and 19 World Championship gold medals. In a viral response liked by Biles herself, gymnastics coach Andrea Orris noted this is "the same girl who was molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood and teen years" and "won the world all-around championship title while passing a kidney stone," per the Daily Dot.
(The new all-round gymnast champ is fellow American Suni Lee