Following Simone Biles pulling out of the women’s team competition, a number of conservative media figures attacked her for supposedly being a “quitter” and “selfish sociopath” who had brought “shame on her country.”
Without Biles Team USA eventually won the silver medal.
“I know that this Olympic Games, I wanted it to be for myself,” a tearful Biles said afterward. “I came here, and I felt like I was still doing it for other people. So that just hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”
Biles hinted that she was dealing with increased pressure and potential mental health challenges:
“I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.”
Biles spoke in the past about the sexual abuse she along with hundreds of other young women suffered at the hands of former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar, saying she’s needed therapy and anxiety meds since.
Her return to the Games this year, was about being a voice for sexual assault survivors.
“I feel like if there weren’t a remaining survivor in the sport, they would’ve just brushed it to the side,” she said.
Right-wing talk radio hosts Clay Travis and Buck Sexton, who took over the early-afternoon time-slot vacated by the late Rush Limbaugh, took turns blasting Biles.
“The blue checks have already rallied to Simone Biles’s defense and said, ‘Oh, it’s so brave,’” Travis sneered
Sexton added: “Why is this brave? What’s brave about not being brave? Cause that’s what we’re talking about here. This is ‘Oh, you didn’t stand up to the bully?’ So to speak… No, I think that’s the not brave move.”
Conservative writer Amber Athey, labeled Biles a “quitter” arguing that the gymnast lacked “mental toughness” and was self-centered for deciding to withdraw after the competition had started.
“Is it all that surprising that someone this overconfident—some might say arrogant—would struggle to mentally rebound from a poor performance?” Athey wrote.
The Federalist, editor John Daniel Davidson said that Biles made the Olympics all about herself.
“Biles doesn’t suffer from a specific mental illness, at least not that we know of or that’s ever manifested itself before. What she experienced wasn’t that, it was something more common among professional athletes: she got psyched out. She wasn’t mentally tough when she needed to be,” he said, adding: “That’s fine. It happens to LeBron James all the time (and when it does, you can tell; he stops trying and lets his team lose). But instead of being ashamed of that, or apologizing to her teammates and her countrymen, Biles seemed to revel in taking care of her ‘mental health,’ whatever that means.”