Actors Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Deepika Padukone, and Alia Bhatt came out in support of gymnast Simone Biles, who recently withdrew from the US women’s gymnastics team finals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, citing “mental health toll.”
Chopra Jonas shared a clip on Instagram, in which Biles spoke about dealing with pressure and the need to seek therapy. The actor called the 24-year-old Biles a “role model” and wrote, “I cannot fathom the impossible pressure you all perform under, but knowing where you need to draw the line and step away – to choose yourself – is most important. Only when we are okay can we perform at our best, and enjoy doing so. Thank you for helping normalise that even under tremendous pressure, it’s okay to be human.”
Bhatt posted an Instagram Story about Biles that said, “A reminder that your mental health is as important as your physical health. This helps change the narrative regarding mental health all over the world, more power to you.”
Padukone, a mental health advocate and the founder of Live, Love, Laugh mental health foundation, showed her support by sharing the news about Biles’ withdrawal from the Olympics and writing, “I hear you,” in an Instagram Story on Wednesday.
The Olympic gold-medallist withdrew from the team finals on Tuesday, and the US gymnastics team released a statement that said Biles’ departure was “due to a medical issue.”
“She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions,” the statement added.
Biles later spoke to NBC reporters and said, “Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape. Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat.”
Post Biles’ departure, the US team went on to win the silver medal.
The gymnast later shared a post on Instagram thanking her teammates for their support, and said, “They stepped up when I couldn’t.”
Biles later withdrew from the all-around competition as well.
The US gymnast earlier appeared in the 2020 Netflix documentary film Athlete A, based on the sexual assault accusations on Larry Nassar, a former team doctor for the US women’s national gymnastics team.
While Biles has not said so herself, she shared a post from former gymnast Andrea Orris which suggested that Biles continues to struggle with the trauma of sexual abuse at the hands of Nassar.
Orris took to Instagram to highlight this issue and several others that Biles has endured through her career. She wrote, “We are talking about the same girl who was molested by her team ‘doctor’ throughout her entire childhood and teen years, won the World All-Around Championship title while passing a kidney stone, put her body through an extra year of training through the pandemic, added so much difficulty to her routines that the judges literally do not know how to properly rate her skills because they are so ahead of her time, and countless more obstacles that we may not even know of.”