Texas Official Backtracks After Calling Simone Biles 'National Embarrassment'

Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz backtracked on comments calling gymnast Simone Biles a "national embarrassment" after she decided to withdraw from the team gymnastics final at this year's Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Reitz issued an apology to Biles via his Twitter account on Wednesday and suggested his original remarks were the result of a "moment of frustration and disappointment."

Biles withdrew from the team final and later decided not to compete in the individual all-around final in order to focus on her mental health. Her decision saw an outpouring of support and some criticism.

On Tuesday, Reitz, who is a Republican, tweeted a video of gymnast Kerri Strug. At the 1996 Olympic games, Strug competed despite having an injured ankle and helped Team USA win gold.

"Contrast this with our selfish, childish national embarrassment," Reitz wrote.

Reitz subsequently deleted that tweet and issued a statement of apology to Biles, who is from Houston, on Twitter on Wednesday. The apology tweet was pinned to his profile at the time of writing.

"I owe @Simone_Biles an apology. A big one," Reitz wrote, tagging the 24-year-old gymnast's verified account.

Reitz's statement said: "My personal social media comments do not represent Attorney General [Ken] Paxton or the office of the attorney general."

"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," the statement went on.

I owe @Simone_Biles an apology. A big one. My statement: pic.twitter.com/SZI8YRI3WO

— Aaron Reitz (@aaron_reitz) July 28, 2021

"Simone Biles is a true patriot and one of the greatest gymnasts of all time. I apologize to her and wish her well," Reitz said.

Reitz apology came after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's Twitter account issued a statement defending Biles and said: "Today I learned about a very inappropriate and insensitive tweet by one of our employees. This will be handled internally."

Biles, who is an Olympic gold medalist and the most decorated gymnast of all time, responded to critics of her decision on Friday morning in a Q&A on Instagram.

"For anyone saying I quit, I didn't quit," Biles said. "My mind and body are simply not in sync."

"I don't think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface, nor do I have to explain why I put health first," Biles went on.

"Physical health is mental health," the gymnast said.

Biles had tweeted about the support she'd been receiving on Thursday. She said: "The outpouring love & support I've received has made me realize I'm more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before."

Kerri Strug, the gymnast Reitz cited in comparison to Biles, tweeted her support for Biles on Tuesday, writing on Twitter: "Sending love to you @Simone_Biles" and shared a goat (Greatest of All Time) emoji and heart emoji. She added: "Team UNITED States of America."

Newsweek has asked Simone Biles for comment.

Simone Biles Smiles at the Tokyo Olympics
Simone Biles of Team United States smiles during the Women's Team Final on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. The deputy attorney general of Texas has apologized for calling Biles a "national embarrassment." Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images