Former first lady Michelle Obama jumped to Simone Biles’ defense Tuesday after the superstar gymnast bowed out of the team competition in Tokyo — saying she was “proud” of the gold medalist.
“Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily. We are proud of you and we are rooting for you,” Obama tweeted after Biles withdrew to focus on her mental well-being.
“Congratulations on the silver medal, Team USA!,” the former first lady added.
Following the shocking announcement Tuesday morning, the four-time Olympic gold medalist explained that the emotional toll of expectations was becoming too much.
“At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me,” Biles said. “It just sucks that it happened at the Olympic Games.”
Obama’s comments were echoed by other political figures, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who has his own connection with the Olympic Games.
The 2012 Republican presidential nominee heaped praise on the 24-year-old gymnast, writing, “I love and admire Simone Biles and our Olympians. Beyond their determination and sacrifice, they evidence the greatness of the human spirit, in victory and in defeat.
“I take pride in them, not so much for the medals they win as for the grace, humanity & character of their hearts,” he added.
Romney was tapped as chief executive officer of the organizing committee in charge of coordinating the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1999. At the time, that committee had a $400 million deficit following a bribery scandal.
The success of the Games became even more complicated in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when the Olympics was feared to be the next major target for terrorists.
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But Romney’s success in saving the games was a huge part of his messaging in his 2012 presidential run.
Biles withdrew Tuesday after a substandard vault rotation, but she returned to the sidelines to cheer on her teammates.
She revealed they “were freaking out” when she informed them of her decision to drop out of the competition.
Even without Biles, who is widely considered the greatest of all time, as their leader, the USA women’s gymnastics team found a silver lining in Tokyo.
The rest of the American squad scored the second podium spot in the team competition behind the gold medal-winning Russian Olympic Committee. Great Britain took home the bronze medal.