US gymnast Simone Biles has hit back at her critics in a defiant social media post.
Biles, considered one of the best gymnasts of all time, posted the defiant message in response to those who criticised her decision to withdraw from the majority of her events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The 24-year-old pulled out midway through the artistic gymnastics team event, but still finished with a silver medal for her contribution to the US score.
Citing a case of the "twisties", a mental block sometimes suffered by gymnasts, Biles then withdrew from four individual events. The American returned for the balance beam, claiming a bronze medal.
Biles received full support from USA Gymnastics, which said in a statement: "We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her well-being."
Despite this, Biles was still subject to criticism from a number of conservative commentators in the US. British broadcaster Piers Morgan also branded the gymnast’s withdrawal a "selfish decision".
In an Instagram post looking back on Tokyo 2020, Biles hit back at critics, writing: "I can’t hear you over my seven Olympic medals".
"Definitely not the way I planned the Olympics going but I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I’m proud of myself and the career I’ve had thus far. This Olympics doesn’t erase the past accomplishments I’ve achieved nor does it define who I am as an athlete.
"I’ve pushed through so much the past couple years, the word quitter is not in my vocabulary.
"For some of you that may be how you define me but keep talking because I can’t hear you over my 7 olympic medals which tied me for the most decorated gymnast EVER, as well as most decorated American gymnast."
The Instagram post has accumulated more than 860,000 likes. Stars such as actress Viola Davis and fellow gymnast Jordan Chiles have posted messages of support.
Biles, who has 25 world medals, was dominant at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, winning golds in the all-around, vault, floor exercise and team. The American also finished with a bronze medal in the balance beam.
She was expected to significantly add to her medal haul at Tokyo 2020, but instead sparked a significant conversation about mental health in sport.
Biles revealed she was inspired by Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open and opted not to compete at Wimbledon in order to protect her mental health.News Now - Sport News