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Simone Biles says her aunt unexpectedly died ahead of her bronze medal performance on balance beam

Simone Biles Olympics
Posted at 8:43 AM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 12:35:16-04

After taking home the bronze medal in the women's gymnastics balance beam competition at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Simone Biles revealed to reporters that she had been coping with the loss of a family member.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Biles said that her aunt had died "unexpectedly" over the weekend.

"Two days ago, my aunt unexpectedly passed, and that was something I wasn't expecting to happen at the Olympic Games either," Biles said. "So at the end of the day, you have to be a little bit more mindful of what you say online because you have no idea of what these athletes are going through as well as (in) their sports."

Biles pulled out of several events at the Tokyo Games to focus on her mental health. She initially stepped away from the Olympics during the all-around team competition after she got the "twisties" — a condition where gymnasts lose their sense of direction in the air — during a vault attempt.

Biles' decision to drop out of some competitions sparked a nationwide conversation about mental health in athletics.

U.S. Gymnastics coach Cecile Cantqueteau-Landi also opened up to reporters about the death of Biles' aunt.

"I was like, 'Oh my God. This week needs to be over," said Canqueteau-Landi. I asked (Biles), 'What do you need?' And she said, 'I just need time.' I said, 'You call me, text me if you need anything I'll be here. Whatever it is.' She called her parents. She said, 'There is nothing I can do from over here. So I'm just going to finish my week and when I get home we'll deal with it.'"

Biles' medal on the balance beam was her seventh Olympic medal, making her the most decorated female Olympic gymnast in American history.