Nastia Liukin Writes Powerful Note in Support of Simone Biles: 'You're Leaving as a Hero'
The 31-year-old gold medal-winning gymnast shared an emotional note to Biles, 24, on Wednesday, after the decorated United States gymnast bowed out of the women's team final as well as the individual all-around at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
"Thank you for showing the depth of who you are beyond an athlete as a leader, role model, mental health warrior, and person," Liukin wrote on social media, adding that Biles is "epitomizing what the next generation of role models should be."
Liukin also lauded Biles "for creating a safer space for current and future athletes to unequivocally be themselves."
"Thank you for helping the world realize that prioritizing your physical and mental health is the mark of a true champion," she continued. "Thank you for illuminating that nobody is defined by the depth of their trophy case, and that you don't owe anything to anyone but yourself and the pursuit of happiness."
"Thank you for taking the sport of gymnastics to new heights as the unanimous GOAT. No one will be remembered for any single routine, competition or medal. You, however, will undeniably be remembered by manu for the compassion and bravery shown here in Tokyo," she continued. "You came here as a gymnast, and you're leaving as a hero."
"We're humans, right? We're human beings. Nobody is perfect so yes, it is okay to not be okay. It's okay to go through ups and downs and emotional roller coasters," added Phelps, who is serving as a TV analyst for NBC during the Summer Games. "But I think the biggest thing is we all need to ask for help sometimes too when we go through those times. For me, I can say personally it was something very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help. I felt like I was carrying, as Simone said, the weight of the world on [my] shoulders. It's a tough situation."
Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez also weighed in on their former U.S.A. Gymnastics teammate's situation Tuesday during an appearance on the Today show shortly after news broke of Biles' sudden withdrawal.
Raisman, 27, said she is "completely devastated" and "so worried" for Biles. "I also am just thinking about the mental impact that this has to have on Simone. It's just so much pressure, and I've been watching how much pressure has been on her in the months leading up to the Games, and it's just devastating," the retired gymnast said.
"She's human, and I think sometimes people forget that," she later added. "And Simone, just like everyone else, is doing the best that she can."
"I can't imagine what she's feeling right now, because people have been keeping a very close eye on her for the last few years and of course, this is the moment where everybody wants to tune in," Hernandez, 21, said.
Biles took to Twitter on Wednesday to thank those that have stood by her.
"The outpouring love & support I've received has made me realize I'm more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before," Biles said.
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.