Dominique Moceanu understands what it feels like to be under the immense pressure of the Olympic stage as a member of the U.S. gymnastics team — and the 1996 gold medalist is supporting Simone Biles after the current gymnast withdrew from the team and all-around events in Tokyo for her mental health.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Moceanu had to push through a tibial stress fracture during the gymnastics team competition, which led her to fall directly on her head as she did her balance beam routine.
"I was 14 y/o w/ a tibial stress fracture, left alone w/ no cervical spine exam after this fall. I competed in the Olympic floor final minutes later," the former gymnast, now 39, posted on Twitter.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty; LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Dominique Moceanu; Simone Biles
Moceanu went on to applaud Biles for prioritizing her mental health and taking herself out of the competition.
"@Simone_Biles 🤍 decision demonstrates that we have a say in our own health — 'a say' I NEVER felt I had as an Olympian."
Moceanu shared a clip of her injury, and commenters pointed that she wasn't checked out by doctors or her coaches. The Off Balance author said the coach support has clearly changed as she watched Biles.
"I'm certain you noticed the sharp contrast between Marta's [the disgraced former coach Marta Karoyli] reaction to her athlete (me) and Cecile's [current Team USA coach Canqueteau-Landi] reaction to her athlete (Simone)," Moceanu replied.
Moceanu further clarified why it was so important for Biles to listen to her body and step back from competition, noting the possibility of serious injury. "In our sport, we essentially dive into a pool w/ no water," she tweeted. "When you lose your ability to find the ground—which appears to be part of @Simone_Biles decision—-the consequences can be catastrophic."
Along with Moceanu, Biles' former teammates Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez and other athletes like Michael Phelps have shared their support for the world-champion gymnast. Raisman told People (the TV Show!) that Biles "has more pressure on her than any other gymnast I've ever seen in my lifetime."
And Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, emphasized that "the Olympics is overwhelming," and when people like him and Biles are put up as the face of Team USA it feels like they have "the weight of the world" on their shoulders.
Biles exited the team competition on Tuesday, and U.S.A. Gymnastics announced Wednesday that she will not participate in the individual all-around competition.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images Simone Biles with coach Cecile Canqueteau-Landi
"After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health," they said in a statement. "Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week's individual event finals."
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.