CLEVELAND — Still only hours after Simone Biles decided to pull out of both the Olympic gymnastics team finals and later the all-around final, support has been pouring in for the four-time gold medalist.
Though some of the reactions to Biles' withdrawal have been polarizing, comments have been overwhelmingly positive from her fellow gymnasts. That includes Cleveland resident Dominique Moceanu, one of the famed "Magnificent Seven" who won team gold for the United States at the 1996 Atlanta games.
"The mental component is just as much a big part of your success as the physical, because if this [points to head] is not right on, you could get physically hurt — catastrophically hurt," Moceanu said Tuesday in an interview with 3News.
On Wednesday, Moceanu went even further, harkening back to her own days as a competitor. After helping Team USA win the team event, Moceanu competed in the individual all-around as a replacement for the injured Kerri Strug. Already suffering from a fractured tibia sustained during the U.S. National Championships, she slipped during her balance beam routine and hit her head. What happened next is not a pleasant memory for her.
"I was [14 years old with] a tibial stress fracture, left alone [with] no cervical spine exam after this fall," Moceanu tweeted. "I competed in the Olympic floor final minutes later."
Moceanu finished ninth in the all-around, but her failure to medal isn't what angers her to this day. What does is the fact that she was essentially forced to stay in the even by her coaches, without even a second thought.
"Simone Biles' decision demonstrates that we have a say in our own health," Moceanu wrote, "'a say' I NEVER felt I had as an Olympian."
Even with her own successes in gymnastics, Moceanu has not been afraid to call out some of the darker aspects of the sport, something she displayed as one of the first to expose the physically and mentally abusive tactics of former USA coach Béla Károlyi. In later years, she also stood by Biles and other gymnasts who were sexually abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar.
Late Wednesday night, Biles took to Twitter and thanked those who have supported her throughout this ordeal. Moceanu used this as an opportunity to speak to Biles directly.