Senior Texas official apologises after he calls Simone Biles a ‘childish national embarrassment’

‘In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I opined on subjects for which I am not adequately versed,’ Aaron Reitz says

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Thursday 29 July 2021 15:00

Simone Biles cites mental health concerns as reason for withdrawing

A senior official in Texas has come under fire after he called Simone Biles a “selfish, childish national embarrassment” over her decision to withdraw from the Olympics team and all-around competitions.

Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz issued an apology on Wednesday after he harshly criticised the gymnast for her decision to withdraw from competing due to mental health concerns.

In a now-deleted tweet that sparked criticism, Mr Reitz shared a video of gymnast Kerri Strug during her 1996 Olympics appearance where she clinched the gold medal during the all-around finals after competing on vault with an injured ankle.

“Contrast this with our selfish, childish national embarrassment, Simone Biles,” Mr Reitz wrote at the time.

The tweet is no longer on his page after receiving swift backlash from the public.

Instead, Mr Reitz has pinned an apology statement to his page.

“I owe @Simone_Biles an apology. A big one,” he wrote on Wednesday.

Mr Reitz went on to state that his past statement did not reflect the Texas Attorney General’s office.

“In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I opined on subjects for which I am not adequately versed. That was an error. I can’t imagine what Simone Biles has gone through,” he said.

“Simone Biles is a true patriot and one of the greatest gymnasts of our time. I apologise to her, and wish her well,” his statement ended.

Biles withdrew from the team final competition in the Olympics after only competing in one event, citing mental health concerns.

Then it was announced that the 24-year-old would also be withdrawing from the all-around competition, in which she was favoured to take gold.

“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement. “We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

Biles won four gold medals during the 2016 Rio Olympics, including the team final and all-around competition.

She has qualified to compete in all four individual events for gymnastics: uneven bars, vault, floor, and beam. The events will take place next week, but Biles has yet to announce if she will compete.

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