Simone Biles says mental health concerns were behind her shock withdrawal from the team gymnastics final at the Tokyo Olympics as she admitted: “I just didn’t want to go on”.
Biles, the US superstar who some consider the greatest female gymnast of all time, was bidding for six gold medals coming into the competition, but pulled out of her first final after a disappointing start.
Without her, the American team finished second behind the Russian Olympic Committee.
Initially the reason given by team bosses for her withdrawal was a “medical issue”.
But, speaking to reporters, Biles, who won four golds and a bronze in Rio 2016, said: “After the performance I did, I just didn’t want to go on.”
She wasn’t hurt, she said, but had suffered “just a little injury to my pride”.
“I have to focus on my mental health. I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now … we have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.
“I don’t trust myself as much anymore … maybe it’s getting older. There were a couple of days when everybody tweets you and you feel the weight of the world.
“We’re not just athletes, we’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back.”
Especially hard was the sense she was no longer doing gymnastics for herself, but for the rest of the world.
“It just sucks when you are fighting with your own head. You want to do it for yourself but you’re just too worried about what everybody else is going to say, think, the internet,” she said.
Her Olympics is far from over, with her next scheduled competition in the women’s all-around final in two days’ time. Apparatus competitions also remain.
“We’re going to see about Thursday,” she said, echoing the team’s statement that she “will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions”.
Biles, who at one point choked back tears, added: “We’re going to take it a day at a time and see what happens. I’m just trying to gear up for the next test. I tried to go out there for the team and they stepped up to the plate.”
She admitted to feeling conflicted, adding: “It’s like fighting all those demons and coming out here. I have to put my pride aside. I have to do it for the team.
“And then at the end of the day, it’s like ‘you know what, I have to do what is right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and my well-being'”.
Biles kept open the possibility of still competing in Tokyo, but said she would take it a day at a time.
She admitted to regretting she won’t be able to have the chance of winning the six golds she was aiming for in Japan, which would have taken her personal tally to 10.
“It is very unfortunate that it has to happen at this stage because I definitely wanted these Olympics to go a little bit better. But again, take it one day at the time. We’ll see how the rest goes.”
The 24-year-old bailed on her planned Amanar vault, opting for an easier one in mid-air, and then struggled with the landing.
The rare misstep allowed the gymnasts from Russia to open up a one-point lead after the first rotation and they went on to win.
After huddling with her trainer, she left the competition floor with the team doctor before returning several minutes later with her right leg wrapped.
Team GB took a historic bronze after leap-frogging Italy on the last rotation.
Joseph Emerson: Attempted murder charges dropped against pilot who ‘tried to cut plane’s engines’
A former Alaska Airlines pilot accused of trying to cut the engines of a Horizon Air flight will not face charges of attempted murder.
Joseph Emerson has been indicted on 84 endangerment charges – for each person on the plane – and one charge of endangering an aircraft.
He previously pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges filed by state prosecutors and to a federal charge of interfering with a flight crew.
Prosecutors have accused Emerson, 44, of trying to cut the engines on the 22 October flight from Everett, Washington state, to San Francisco while riding in the extra seat in the cockpit.
The FBI said in an affidavit that after a brief struggle, he left the cockpit and attendants put him in wrist restraints and seated him in the back of the aircraft which was diverted to Portland.
According to charging documents, Emerson told Port of Portland police he had been struggling with depression, that a friend had recently died and that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms about 48 hours before he attempted to cut the engines.
He also said he had not slept in more than 40 hours.
Emerson’s defence lawyers welcomed the grand jury’s decision.
They said: “The attempted murder charges were never appropriate in this case because Captain Emerson never intended to hurt another person or put anyone at risk – he just wanted to return home to his wife and children.
“Simply put: Captain Emerson thought he was in a dream.”
Emerson remains in custody in Multnomah County, Oregon.
Texas woman asks court to let her have an abortion
A Texas woman who is 20-weeks pregnant and whose foetus has been diagnosed with a fatal condition has asked a court to allow her to have an abortion.
Texas is one of 13 states that bans abortion at nearly all stages of pregnancy.
Kate Cox recently learned her unborn child is at a high risk of a genetic abnormality called trisomy 18, which typically does not result in a viable pregnancy.
The 31-year-old mother-of-two has started legal proceedings in Austin seeking a temporary restraining order allowing a doctor to perform an abortion without being prosecuted.
Doctors have told Ms Cox her baby is likely to be stillborn or live for a week at most, according to court papers.
The documents also say because she has already had two previous caesarean sections, she would need to have a third one if she continues the pregnancy, which could jeopardise her ability to have more children.
“Yet because of Texas’s abortion bans, Ms Cox’s physicians have informed her that their ‘hands are tied’ and she will have to wait until her baby dies inside her or carry the pregnancy to term, at which point she will be forced to have a third C-section, only to watch her baby suffer until death,” the court papers said.
“Kate Cox needs an abortion, and she needs it now.”
The legal action is believed to be the first time a woman has sought a court order authorising an abortion since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v Wade 1973 ruling which legalised abortion nationwide.
Although Texas allows exceptions, doctors and women have argued in court this year that the state’s law is so restrictive and vaguely worded that physicians are afraid of providing abortions for fear they could face potential criminal charges.
Ms Cox has urged the court to rule “expeditiously”.
“It is not a matter of if I will have to say goodbye to my baby, but when,” she said in a statement.
“I’m trying to do what is best for my baby and myself, but the state of Texas is making us both suffer.”
In July, several Texas women gave emotional testimony about carrying babies they knew would not survive and doctors unable to offer abortions despite their spiralling conditions.
A judge later ruled the abortion ban in Texas was too restrictive for women with pregnancy complications – but that decision was swiftly put on hold after the state appealed against it.
Molly Duane, Ms Cox’s lawyer who is also a legal representative for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said: “How many people are going through the exact same thing as Kate is right now but are not in a position to file a lawsuit?
“I think that gives you a sense of the scale of the problem that we’re dealing with.”
Panera Bread’s caffeinated Charged Lemonade drinks blamed for two deaths in US
A highly caffeinated drink sold by US bakery chain Panera Bread has been blamed for two deaths after a second lawsuit was filed on Monday.
Dennis Brown is said to have drunk three Charged Lemonades from a Panera Bread on 9 October before suffering a fatal cardiac arrest on his way home in Florida, according to Sky News’ partner network NBC News.
The 46-year-old did not normally consume energy drinks because he had high blood pressure, according to lawsuit filed this week.
It adds that it is unclear whether Mr Brown, who had had a developmental delay and a mild intellectual disability, knew how much caffeine and sugar was in the drink because it was available in self-serve dispensers “offered side-by-side with all of the store’s non-caffeinated and/or less caffeinated drinks.”
Mr Brown’s cause of death was cardiac arrest due to hypertensive disease, according to a death certificate seen by NBC News.
Panera advertises the beverage as “plant-based an clean with as much caffeine as our dark roast coffee.”
The complaints refer to it as a “dangerous energy drink” and argue that Panera fails to appropriately warn consumers about its caffeine contents.
A large cup, the lawsuits allege, contains 390mg of caffeine – more than the caffeine content of standard cans of Red Bull and Monster energy drinks combined.
In a statement provided to NBC News, Panera expressed its “deep sympathy for Mr Brown’s family” and said it stood by the safety of its products.
“Based on our investigation we believe his unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company’s products,” it added.
“We view this lawsuit, which was filed by the same law firm as a previous claim, to be equally without merit. Panera stands firmly by the safety of our products.”
The first legal complaint referred to Sarah Katz, who died on 10 September last year after going into cardiac arrest.
The lawsuit filed in October alleges the 21-year-old, who had a heart condition called long QT syndrome type 1, bought a Charged Lemonade from a Panera Bread store in Philadelphia hours before her death.
She did this, it claims, despite the fact she avoided energy drinks at the recommendation of her doctors.
Her roommate and close friend, Victoria Rose Conroy, told NBC News: “She [Ms Katz] was very, very vigilant about what she needed to do to keep herself safe.
“I guarantee if Sarah had known how much caffeine this was, she never would have touched it with a 10-foot pole.”
A Panera spokesperson at the time said: “We were very saddened to learn this morning about the tragic passing of Sarah Katz, and our hearts go out to her family.
“At Panera, we strongly believe in transparency around our ingredients. We will work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter.”
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