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Read Nastia Liukin's heartfelt thank-you letter to Simone Biles

"You came here as a gymnast, and you're leaving as a hero."
/ Source: TODAY

Nastia Liukin has a lot to be thankful for and Simone Biles is on her short list.

In an emotional Instagram update late Wednesday, the former Olympian shared a photo of Biles in a star-spangled leotard to her feed.

But it was Liukin's caption that really stood out among the thousands of supportive posts that have poured in for Biles.

"Dear Simone, Thank you," she began. "Thank you for showing the depth of who you are beyond an athlete as a leader, role model, mental health warrior and person."

Nastia LiukinElizabeth Morris / NBCU Photo Bank

She continued, "Thank you for epitomizing what the next generation of role models should be. Thank you 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.

"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.

Simone Biles on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.Fred Lee / Getty Images

"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 many for the compassion and bravery shown here in Tokyo. You came here as a gymnast, and you're leaving as a hero. xo, NL."

Liukin, the 2008 Olympic All-Around champion and five-time Olympic medalist, is familiar with the pressures professional athletes face.

"She did the right thing," Liukin told NBC's Mike Tirico after the team final. "She really wanted to focus on the team and when you actually take a look at what happened on that vault, she got lost. We call it the twisties. It's a mental kind of error that every single gymnast goes through.

Biles shared Liukin's post in her Instagram story. "Crying" she wrote alongside a tearful emoji and her signature white heart. Biles also shared an earlier post from Justin Bieber to her Instagram stories.

"Nobody will ever understand the pressures you face!" Bieber wrote. "I know we don’t know each other but I’m so proud of the decision to withdraw ... what does it mean to gain the whole world but forfeit your soul."

Later Wednesday night, Biles tweeted for the first time for the first time since her decision to withdraw from the U.S. women's gymnastics team and individual all-around events.

"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," the decorated Olympian wrote alongside her signature white heart emoji.

Biles still has the chance to compete in four more individual events during this year's Olympic Games.

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