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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.

Simone Biles appears distraught after pulling out of the women's team final. Pic: USA Today
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Biles appeared distraught after pulling out of the women’s team final. Pic: USA Today
Simone Biles takes a huge step forward as she lands after the completing the vault, shortly before she withdrew. Pic: AP
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Biles made an error when she took a huge step forward on landing after completing the vault. Pic: AP

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.

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“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.”

Simone Biles in mid-flight during her ill-fated vault performance in the women's artistic gymnastics team final. Pic: AP
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Biles in mid-flight during her ill-fated vault performance. Pic: AP

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.

Simone Biles talks to her US team-mates during the final
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Simone Biles talks to her US teammates during the final

“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.”

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The record-breaking American athlete had a rocky start in the final, where the US was looking to secure a third straight Olympic title.

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.

Medal standings as of Tuesday
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Medal standings as of Tuesday

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.

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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones files for bankruptcy

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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones files for bankruptcy

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has filed for bankruptcy.

Jones, the founder of far-right conspiracy website InfoWars, was sued after he accused relatives of children and teachers who died in the Sandy Hook shooting of being actors who faked the massacre.

The 48-year-old described the shooting as “phoney as a three-dollar bill” and claimed that the whole event was staged in an effort to curb gun rights.

He lost the case in October and was ordered to pay nearly $1bn in damages to the families of the victims.

Twenty pupils, all aged six or seven, and six staff members were killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012.

Jones was ordered to pay a total of $965m (£791m) in damages.

A court filing showed the conspiracy theorist filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors with the US bankruptcy court in Houston, Texas stating that he has between $1m and $10m of assets and between $1bn and $10bn of liabilities.

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Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a company or individual to propose a reorganisation plan in order to allow them to keep operating while also paying off their debts.

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The infamous American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to pay the families of the Sandy Hook school massacre $965m.

The controversial host has been banned from virtually all mainstream social media as a result of his conspiracy theories.

However, he still streams content on his own platform to a devoted online following.

On Thursday, Jones made headlines around the world again after he was joined by Kanye West for an interview in which the rapper praised Hitler.

Despite Jones’ social media exile, clips of his talk with the rapper were circulated widely, with West’s views on the Nazis prompting widespread outrage.

He said to the rapper: “You’re not Hitler, you’re not a Nazi, so you don’t deserve to be called that and demonised.”

West, whose face was hidden by a black mask throughout the interview, replied: “Well, I see good things about Hitler also.

Read more:
Who is Alex Jones?

“I love everyone, and Jewish people are not going to tell me, ‘you can love, you know, us’… every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”

Originally hailing from Austin, Texas, Jones began working in cable TV in the 1990s where he picked up a cult following thanks to his conspiracy theories.

In 1999 he cofounded the website InfoWars, which became popular in online conspiracy circles, reportedly racking up more than 10 million visits a month in 2017.

However, in the wake of repeated controversies and lawsuits the site’s parent company Free Speech Systems LLC filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Along with the Sandy Hook conspiracy theory, he infamously promulgated the “Pizzagate” fake news story, which alleged that a Washington DC pizzeria was at the centre of an international paedophile abuse ring run by Hillary Clinton.

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William and Kate’s overshadowed US trip to end with Biden meeting and star-studded Earthshot Prize ceremony

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William and Kate's overshadowed US trip to end with Biden meeting and star-studded Earthshot Prize ceremony

Prince William will be greeted by President Biden on the final day of his trip to Boston.

The Prince and Princess of Wales are in the northeastern city to announce the winners of the Earthshot Prize.

The couple’s three-day visit has been overshadowed by the Buckingham Palace race row, and the surprise release of Harry and Meghan’s Netflix trailer.

Both events have eclipsed engagements carried out by William and Kate, who are in the US for their first overseas visit since the death of the Queen.

The Princess of Wales is spending time at Harvard University.

She will visit the world renowned Center on the Developing Child as part of her efforts to promote the importance of early years care.

Sources close to the princess said she is “passionate” about the subject and has been hoping to visit researchers at Harvard for some time.

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The couple's flying visit to the US has been overshadowed
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The couple’s visit has so far been overshadowed by other events
On Thursday the royals visited Roca, an organisation that helps high-risk young people
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The royals yer=sterday visited Roca – an organisation that helps high-risk young people

In a different part of the city, Prince William will visit the John F Kennedy Presidential Library, where he will be formally greeted by President Biden.

He will be given a tour of the museum by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of JFK.

William will learn about President Kennedy’s Moonshot prize, which challenged America to put a man on the moon. It’s also the inspiration for the prince’s environmental Earthshot Prize.

The day will culminate with the star-studded Earthshot ceremony, where five winners will win prizes of £1m to help further their work tackling the climate crisis.

Billie Eilish arriving at the Met Gala in New York last month
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Billie Eilish will headline the entertainment at the Earthshot ceremony

Read more:
Analysis – Royal visit overshadowed by barrage of bad news

Harry and Meghan’s trailer in 11 snaps – and what they show

This year there are two UK finalists, including Notpla, which makes a seaweed based alternative to plastic packaging, and Low Carbon Materials, a company working on environmentally friendly building materials.

Singer Billie Eilish will headline the entertainment at the ceremony, with Annie Lennox and Ellie Goulding also appearing.

The royals’ visit to America has not gone as planned. It had been hoped the trip would help positively promote the Royal Family on a global stage.

This is now William and Kate’s last day in America and a final chance to showcase the causes they care about.

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Boy, 10, ‘shot mother dead after she refused to buy him a virtual reality headset’

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Boy, 10, 'shot mother dead after she refused to buy him a virtual reality headset'

A 10-year-old boy allegedly shot and killed his mother because she would not buy him a virtual reality headset.

The boy at first claimed the shooting was an accident, but later said he intentionally aimed at his mother.

He is said to have logged into her Amazon account and ordered a headset the morning after she died, according to his aunt and sister, who claim he has not cried or showed any remorse.

The boy has been charged as an adult with first-degree reckless homicide and is in juvenile detention.

The incident happened just before 7am on 21 November in the city of Milwaukee in Wisconsin.

State law requires children as young as 10 to be charged as adults for certain serious crimes, but lawyers can request the case is moved to a juvenile court.

One of the boy’s lawyers, Angela Cunningham, said: “This is an absolute family tragedy.

“I don’t think anybody would deny or disagree with that… the adult system is absolutely ill-equipped to address the needs of a 10-year-old child.”

The boy is said to have told officers he got the gun from his mother’s bedroom and went down to the basement where she was doing laundry, according to criminal charges seen by the Journal Sentinel, a local newspaper.

Milwaukee Police initially said that the boy was “playing” with the gun when it fired, fatally injuring his mother.

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Analysis: America’s problem with guns stands alone
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The force said the incident would be referred to the Milwaukee County District Attorney General’s Office for review.

They also reminded the public to “keep firearms secured with a gunlock and out of the reach of children”.

A day after the incident, however, concerned relatives called the police.

History of ‘disturbing behaviour’

The boy is said to have a history of “disturbing behaviour”, including swinging a puppy around by its tail when he was four.

His family told police he filled a balloon with flammable liquid and set it alight, causing an explosion that burned furniture and the carpet.

When questioned by his family, the boy said he hears imaginary people talking to him.

He also physically attacked his seven-year-old cousin on the day of the shooting.

In a second interview with police, he said he tried shooting a wall to “scare her” when she walked in front of him and was wounded, according to the charge sheet.

He also told them he took the gun because his mother woke him up 30 minutes earlier than usual, at 6am, that day.

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