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COURAGE It's better to be a healthy quitter than a Twitter loser

Forget the Piers pressure Biles is true role model


Simone Biles

Simone Biles

Simone Biles

Let me start this week's ­column by saying that ­Simone Biles and I couldn't have less in common.

The elite athlete first took up gymnastics at the age of six and has trained practically every day since.

As a child, I did Irish dancing solely because they gave out sweets at the end of the class.

The 24 year-old is the world's most decorated gymnast with a combined haul of 31 Olympic and World Championship medals, 23 of which are gold.

I am the proud owner of a novelty trophy for coming second in a Fr Ted table quiz.

She shattered toes in both her feet at the US Nationals earlier this year and ­soldiered on.

I - no word of a lie - once dislocated my knee while blow-drying my hair and was laid up for eight weeks.

All of which is to say that I'm in complete awe of the sporting icon's incredible achievements.

But this week I found ­myself cheering her on for an entirely different reason at Tokyo 2020.

On Tuesday, Biles sensationally withdrew from the women's team gymnastics final at the Olympics to focus on her mental health, later also pulling out of the individual competition.

Explaining the shock decision after a shaky start at the Games, she said: "It's been really stressful this Olympic Games. It's been a long week, a long Olympic process, a long year.

"Once I came out here, I was like, no, the mental is not there."

The GOAT, who helped bring former USA gymnastics doctor and sexual predator Larry Nassar to justice, is just the latest to speak out about mental health in sport, and like Naomi Osaka and Michael Phelps, has been widely praised for putting her wellbeing in first place.

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So it really takes some Olympic-level mental gymnastics to paint her as a bad role model for young people.

First to bend over backwards to try was - who else - Piers Morgan, who impressively stretched as far his smartphone to bemoan "this culture of celebrating weakness", tweeting: "Are 'mental health issues' now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport?


Piers Morgan

Piers Morgan

Piers Morgan

"Athletes are now deemed more courageous, inspiring and heroic if they lose or quit then if they win or tough it out, which is ridiculous."

Well, if anyone knows anything about quitting, it's Piers, who abandoned Good Morning Britain in March after being called out by a colleague for constantly trash-talking Meghan Markle.

Elsewhere, in Texas, the silver medal for a truly s*** take on the situation went to Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz, who also took to Twitter to slate the "selfish, childish national embarrassment", before issuing an apology that was the very definition of the word.

The Oxford English dictionary, incidentally, offers 47 synonyms for 'quit', and contrary to what some people would have you believe, 'fail' is not one of them.

Like Biles this week, we've all suffered from a case of the 'twisties' from time to time.

Couch potato or Olympic champion, there is no glory in persisting at something that ravages your physical or psychological wellbeing.

I'd much rather be a healthy quitter than a burnt-out winner - or a Twitter loser.

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