‘If Marta Karolyi was there, this would not have happened’ takes on two meanings after Biles withdrawal

U.S. & World

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– NBC4 Sports Anchor and former high-level gymnast Whitney Harding spoke live with Kristine Varkony about Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from the women’s team competition Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics.

Watch the entire analysis in the video above.

Whitney, who trained at the Karolyi gym growing up, explained that one school of thought with two meanings is echoing across the gymnastics world after Biles pulled herself from the competition due to mental health issues: “‘If Marta Karolyi was there, this would not have happened.’ And that goes two ways.”

The first way, she explained shows the growth of the sport since USA Gymnastics cut ties with Marta and Bela Karolyi in 2018.

“[People in elite gymnastics] say this is proof, the sport has gotten healthier, and mental health has become a part that’s recognized,” Whitney explained.

She continued: “The other group of people that say, ‘If Marta was there, this wouldn’t have happened because she would have sucked it up, she would have gotten her head right. And she would have continued with the competition, because that is what you’re expected to do when you are the best female gymnast in the United States.’ So it’s definitely two different sides of the coin there.”

Biles herself has not mentioned or commented on the Karolyi connection.

“I didn’t want to go into any of the other events second-guessing myself,” Biles said. “So, I thought it would be better if I took a step back and let these girls go out there and do their job.”

Without Biles the Team USA Women’s Gymnastics Team won the silver medal behind Russia.

The 24-year-old reigning world and Olympic all-around champion said she is not sure whether she will compete in Thursday’s individual all-around competition.

“We’re gonna take it day by day, and we’re just gonna see,” she told “Today.”

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