Olympian and renowned gymnast Simone Biles revealed that her aunt on her father's side unexpectedly died two days before she won the bronze medal in the balance beam final.
The 24-year-old athlete received her first individual medal at the Tokyo Games after withdrawing from the previous four individual finals — all-around, vault, uneven bars, and floor — for mental health concerns and a common struggle among gymnasts known as "the twisties."
Her coach, Cecile Canqueteau-Landi, opened up about the personal hardship Simone has been dealing with, including her aunt's death: "I was like, ‘Oh, my God. This week needs to be over,'" she told reporters on Tuesday. "I asked [Simone] what do you need. And she said, ‘I just need some time.'"
Cecile continued, "I said, ‘You call me, text me if you need anything, I’ll be here. Whatever that is.’ She called her parents. She said, ‘There’s nothing I can do from over here. So I’m just going to finish my week, and when I get home, we’ll deal with it.’”
Following Simone's grueling experience at the Olympics, her coach said the athlete is "openly talking about therapy" and deserves "some vacation."
"I think she needs a good break," Cecile shared. "We're going to go back to work, but I'm happy for her that she gets to go back to her family, her boyfriend, her dog. She's just going to go home and enjoy."
At a press conference, Simone revealed she has been in close communication with her family, and that FaceTiming them "almost every day" has been "nice and reassuring."
The GOAT also shared an important message about her personal well-being, stating, "My mental and physical health is above all the medals that I could ever win."
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