Not even Simone Biles is immune from feeling the stress of the Olympics.
The gymnast, 24, acknowledged how she and her teammates got off to a rough start when they finished in second place behind Russia during qualifying competition over the weekend as the Americans began their quest for a third straight team gold.
“Prelims now to prepare for finals,” Biles wrote on Instagram. “It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.
"I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke! BUT I’m happy my family was able to be with me virtually they mean the world to me!”
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Biles can take solace in knowing there are some people who understand how she’s feeling. On her Instagram story, she reposted words of encouragement from five-time Olympic medalist Nastia Liukin, who tried to put things in perspective.
“I feel like at times, people forget that even the very best in the world are still human – with hearts, nerves, pain, stress, anxiety, pressure,” she wrote.
“So let’s continue to spread our love and support to our athletes who are doing something SO difficult already, and then having to also handle the weight of an entire nation and world on their shoulders during a pandemic without fans AND their number one supporters, their family.”
MyKayla Skinner, who was competing for Team USA in Tokyo as an individual but failed to qualify for an event final, can also sympathize with Biles.
“She wins so many things, so I can totally feel all that pressure, for sure, on her shoulders,” she said Monday on TODAY. “She definitely takes the weight of the team, so I feel like prelims is the most stressful just because that’s where we’re qualifying for individual events and team finals.”
The Americans’ second-place finish raised many eyebrows, since it was the first time the squad failed to take the top spot in a qualifying event since 2010, Sports Illustrated reported.
Biles, who won five medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, led the way in all-around scores with 57.731 but was not as crisp as many had anticipated. She bounced out of bounds during her floor routine, stepped off the mat during vault and took extra steps when she dismounted from the beam. Jordan Chiles also fell off the beam, including once during her dismount. Grace McCallum and Suni Lee also made some mistakes during their qualifying events.
Despite the errors, Biles will compete in six finals, including team, individual all-around, floor exercise, beam, uneven bars and vault, making her the first woman to do so in one Games since Shannon Miller and Romania’s Lavinia Milosovici in 1992, NBC Sports reported. Biles competed in five events in Rio in 2016.
Biles will look to cement her status as the GOAT when the team final gets underway Tuesday.