For Simone Biles, the path to gold isn't always as golden as it seems.
The 24-year-old Olympian, famously known as the GOAT, candidly spoke out about the pressure she is feeling while competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. "Prelims [check mark emoji] now to prepare for finals," she wrote in an Instagram post early Monday, July 26. "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," she continued. "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!"
The star's personal admission came on the heels of the team unexpectedly landing in second behind Russia in the qualification round, signaling a possible change to the gold medal streak the U.S. has had at the Olympics since 2012.
But, the atmosphere is also notably different at the games this year given the limitations spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. One of the most noticeable is the lack of physical spectators, including the athletes' loved ones. As Biles mentioned, "I'm happy my family was able to be with me virtually they mean the world to me!"
Fellow American gymnast MyKayla Skinner, who unfortunately did not make the cut in the qualifying round and has to leave the country within 48 hours because of COVID-19 protocol, shed light on the challenges the team, including Biles, is facing.
"We come prepared. We were busting out routines. We're ready to go," she told Today's Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb in their defense on July 26. "But, I mean, it's hard. There's no crowd. No one to cheer and support us on besides the guys that came and watched us a little bit, so it was definitely dead in there."
The silver lining? "I think they got the jitters out now," Skinner said, "so they'll be ready for team finals and the rest of their events going on."
Despite falling short of first, "We're amazing," she praised, "and I think it's OK to mess up. You're not always perfect."
Still, they feel the significance of their performance. As she acknowledged, "We do put a lot of pressure on ourselves." Of Biles, Skinner added, "She wins so many things, so I could totally feel that pressure for sure on her shoulders, so I mean she definitely takes the weight of the team."