Simone Biles can sympathize with Mikaela Shiffrin when it comes to entering an Olympics with sky-high expectations and not having it work out like it was planned.
The gymnastics superstar reacted Thursday to Shiffrin's Instagram post in which the star skier shared the negative messages she has received after finishing 0-for-5 in her attempts to win an individual Olympic medal in Beijing. Shiffrin wrote that "it's also not the end of the world to fail" and urged others facing similar situations to "get up because you can."
"Honestly, you can’t judge somebody’s mental health through a platform, so I hope she’s doing OK, but it’s nice that she’s giving an insight on exactly how she’s feeling (and) still rooting on her teammates," Biles said on TODAY Friday. "Because it’s a really tough place, especially during a pandemic, you’re going to compete at the Olympics, and America is kind of like gold medal or bust, and so that puts a lot of pressure on ourselves."
Biles, 24, brought the topic of athletes' mental health to the forefront at last year's Summer Olympics when she withdrew from all but one individual event after entering the Games as a strong favorite to win multiple gold medals. Biles shared her struggles with her mental health under the immense pressure to deliver in Tokyo, and she has witnessed Shiffrin dealing with similar issues.
"We also put a lot of pressure on ourselves already because it’s the pinnacle of our career, so we want to do our best, so whenever we don’t it’s like it's kind of a punch in the throat to us, but then we have all of America kind of like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re a failure,'" Biles said. "At the end of the day you have to realize you’re still one of the best athletes on the planet, and you’re at the Olympics. Like how many people get to go to the Olympics, and what are you guys doing, you’re watching on the couch."
Shiffrin's last chance at an individual medal ended Thursday when the two-time gold medalist failed to finish the slalom portion of the combined event. It marked the third race she did not finish in Beijing, but Biles hopes she can still take away something positive.
"I love Mikaela Shiffrin, and I hope that she just embraces the Olympic experience because we don’t know how many we’ll be able to go to," she said.
Shiffrin, 26, reflected on her struggles on TODAY Friday, saying she wanted to "melt off the face of the earth" after skiing out of the slalom race last week.
Biles, retired skiing legend Lindsey Vonn and others expressed their support for Shiffrin on social media last week after the heartbreaking scene of Shiffrin sitting in dejection in the slalom race.
She still has one more race in Beijing as she will compete as part of Team USA in the mixed gender team Alpine event, which begins Friday.
She also shared in a video on Instagram Friday clarifying that her message of resilience is for more than just herself.
"That message that was meant for you guys to get up, and to keep going, get out of bed the next day even though you’re getting these messages that make you feel awful," she says in the video.
"Don’t send messages to your haters, they don’t deserve your time being wasted on them. You just spread the message to the next person who’s getting hate. Keep on going, keep getting up and do your thing."