Simone Biles Withdrawal Didn't Matter, Russians Say: 'We Would Have Won Anyway'

The United States gymnastics team got startling news as the women's Olympic team finals began Wednesday in Tokyo, and so did the world. American gymnast Simone Biles, widely regarded as the best on the planet, withdrew from the final. She cited mental health concerns but did not elaborate.

The American team of Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum circled the wagons and won the silver medal for Team USA, almost three-and-a-half points behind the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team that won the gold medal.

Headlines all over the world had Simone Biles and ROC. Even during the post-event press conference, the Russians seemed miffed by questions from American journalists about Biles' absence during the important event at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Simone Biles
Simone Biles of Team United States watches her team perform on bars after pulling out of the competition after only competing on the vault during the Women's Team Final on day four on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The Russians could not compete under the flag of their home country because of an ongoing four-year ban from major international events in all sports because of doping scandals. A select group of countrymen and women were chosen to compete under the ROC moniker and the Olympic flag.

The Russian gymnasts shrugged off the possibility of losing to the Americans in the Olympic finals just because its top star stepped away.

"We didn't focus on this. She is a human and could make a mistake or got an injury. We were thinking only about our performance," said Russian gymnast Victoria Listunova, according to championat.com.

Biles congratulated the ROC team with their win, and was reportedly asked by the Russians why she abruptly withdrew.

"She answered: 'Nothing.' Like it is no matter," Angelina Melnikova.

Biles is called the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) in USA Gymnastics, having won the last three World Championships and five medals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She's a long way from former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won 18 career medals over a span of three Olympics before becoming the country's national coach.

Latynina said the ROC would have won the Tokyo team finals whether the USA had Simone Biles or not.

"What a drama in artistic gymnastics! Russians win gold with two falls! ... They flinched but didn't break," Latynina said. "Even if Biles competed, we would have won anyway."

Biles didn't definitively say she would return to the individual events, but did say she would be ready come Thursday.

The ROC won the team competition with 169.528 points, which was far ahead of the United States (166.096) and Great Britain (164.096).

This was the first time Russian gymnasts stood on the gold medal podium since 1992 when they competed as the Unified Team at the Barcelona Summer Games.