Simone Biles says she feels “weight of the world” on her shoulders

Simone Biles opened up on Monday about the extreme pressure she feels to perform at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The greatest gymnast of all time had a tough start in qualifiers, as Team USA finished second, behind the Russian Olympic Committee.

The 24-year-old superstar shared on Instagram that the pressure of living up to her past performances has taken a toll on her mentally.

“It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times,” Biles wrote on Monday. “I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke! BUT I’m happy my family was able to be with me virtually. They mean the world to me!”

Russia finished the qualifying round with a total score of 171.629, while the U.S., including Biles, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum, earned a score of 170.562, following a slew of uncharacteristic errors.

After posting to social media on Monday, Biles, a five-time Olympic medalist, received an outpouring of support from the gymnastics community.

“I feel like at times, people forget that even the very best in the world are still human — with hearts, nerves, pain, stress, anxiety, pressure,” gymnastics legend Nastia Liukin, who is reporting from the Games, shared on her Instagram.

“So let’s continue to spread our love and support to our athletes who are doing something SO difficult already, and then having to also handle the weight of an entire nation and world on their shoulders during a pandemic without fans,” she added. “AND their number one supporters, their family.”

Biles, the reigning all-around Olympic champion, finished first in vault and in the all-around, but second in floor, third in the balance beam and eight in the uneven bars. In all, she could win a record five gold medals.

Biles and Lee will compete in the all-around for Team USA in the final on Tuesday. The individual all-around final is scheduled to take place on Thursday.