Fans were left in total shock when Simone Biles withdrew from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics earlier this week and now, she's being compared to Kerri Strug, who pulled out of the Games back in 1996.
Now, Biles is arguably one of the greatest gymnasts of all time and was expected to win big this year for team America. But as we know, she left the competition on Tuesday after struggling with her mental health.
Many commended her decision, although some people compared it to that of the U.S. gymnast Kerri Strug, who helped her team win gold in 1996 despite breaking her ankle during the competition.
In a sport that has made headlines for abuse. That holds up the fear and pain of Keri Strug AS A MODEL. Simone Biles cemented her GOAT status today, by simply being brave enough to do what others couldn't/wouldn't. Again.
— @...and the sun will fucking rise... (@biblioholicbeth) July 28, 2021
During the women's competition back in 1996, the team were cutting it close as to whether they would bag first or second, and it all came down to Strug's 2 vaults.
Sadly, on the first vault, Strug injured her ankle, but they still needed one more vault from her to get gold. Her coach, Bela Karolyi, said, "Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold."
Strug went one last time and finished it off perfectly - but she noticeably landed on just one leg and let out a short scream of pain. After the crowd went wild while ignoring her clear distress, she fell onto the mat in agony after breaking her ankle from the final landing. Just imagine walking on a broken ankle, never mind performing an incredibly complex gymnastic performance on one?!
Regardless of the brutality, the image of Strug on the podium with a damaged ankle has since become a huge symbol of strength here in America.
The team became the first USA team to win gold in the all-around at the Olympics and Strug etched her name into the history books.
After Biles' announcement on Tuesday, some viewers on social media criticized Biles for withdrawing and compared her to Strug. One Twitter user said they were "disappointed" and called her a "quitter."
Others, however, were in full support of Biles and respected her to know when not to push her body too far.
I feel so inspired by Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka. I keep thinking about Keri Strug and what I wish she had felt able to choose for herself.
— Liz Laribee (@lizlaribee) July 28, 2021
"I remember watching Kerri Strug vault on an already damaged ankle. I was a teenager, but even then I knew there was something toxic about the culture and expectations that led to her doing it," Dani Alexis wrote.
Despite some people praising Biles for being an advocate for mental illness, Biles' experience has led some fans to view Strug's moment in the Olympic Games a little differently.
"Our athletes shouldn't have to destroy themselves to meet our standards," Byron Heath wrote in a now-viral Facebook post on Tuesday. "If giving empathetic, authentic support to our Olympians means we'll earn less gold medals, I'm happy to make that trade."
Another Twitter user labeled both women as heroes...
"Kerri Strug was a hero for competing when she was able, and Simone Biles was a hero for not competing when she wasn't," Jay Brannen wrote on Twitter. "It can be both."
Strug herself showed her support for Biles, writing on Twitter Tuesday, "Sending love to you @Simone_Biles."