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Aly Raisman Says Simone Biles 'Has More Pressure on Her Than Any Other Gymnast' After She Withdraws

·3-min read
Aly Raisman Says Simone Biles 'Has More Pressure on Her Than Any Other Gymnast' After She Withdraws

After Simone Biles' stunning withdrawal from the women's gymnastics team finals, her former teammate Aly Raisman emphasizes that "none of us know what it feels like to be Simone Biles right now."

Speaking with Kay Adams of People (the TV Show!), Raisman, who won gold with Biles at the 2016 Rio Games, says that she was "proud" of the 24-year-old for focusing on her mental health by removing herself from the team event at the Tokyo Games on Tuesday.

"You know, I felt like I had a lot of pressure and that was nothing compared to what Simone has on her right now," Raisman, 27, says. "Simone has more pressure than any other gymnast I've ever seen in my lifetime. And it's a lot. And I think that it's a bigger conversation of, you know, there needs to be better systems out there to support the mental health of athletes and to help athletes navigate how much pressure they're under."

Simone Biles
Simone Biles

Simone Biles

Raisman believes there was too much of an assumption that the U.S. would automatically win gold.

For more on Simone Biles withdrawing from the gymnastics team final and other top stories, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

"From my perspective, when I was watching the lead-up to the games, it almost seemed like people forgot how hard winning a gold medal is," she says. "And, you know, my coach told me when I was younger, that being number one in the world or being favored to win is the hardest position to be in the world as an athlete, because there's so much pressure on you."

RELATED: Simone Biles on Pressure to Succeed at Olympics: 'I Truly Do Feel I Have Weight of the World on My Shoulders'

That Biles explained the situation at all is impressive, Raisman says.

"I think it's really brave of her to vulnerably share that the reason why she didn't finish the competition, I think it takes so much courage to do that."

Women's Team Final
Women's Team Final

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Team USA Gymnastics after winning silver

Raisman is also amazed by the other members of Team USA — Jordan Chiles, Suni Lee and Grace McCallum — who pulled together a silver medal win after Biles' exit.

"[I'm] also very proud of the other gymnasts because some of them weren't expected to compete in the other events. And so when Simone went out, they stepped up and they did it," Raisman says. "And what people don't realize is they probably didn't warm up in the back gym. So they kind of had to like throw a routine [together] mentally, not preparing to have to do it that day, and to do that in the Olympic team final is so much pressure. And so I'm just very proud of all of them. I wish I could give them a hug in person."

RELATED: Simone Biles Thanks Her Teammates Who 'Stepped Up When I Couldn't' After Her Withdrawal

In the hours since Biles pulled out of the team event, Raisman says she has texted with the gymnast.

"I am just sending her all the love and support and just hope that she's having a really good night's sleep," Raisman says, adding that she hopes "she wakes up tomorrow and she feels good."

Simone Biles
Simone Biles

Simone Biles with coach Cecile Canqueteau-Landi

"I am praying that she'll be able to compete in the rest of the event finals in the all-around final" on Thursday, Raisman adds. "But I think right now the most important thing is that Simone takes it day by day, and she prioritizes how she's feeling."

To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.

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