Journalist reveals how weight 'lifted off' Simone Biles after dramatic Tokyo Olympics withdrawal

Several behind-the-scenes moments have provided insight into United States gymnastic superstar Simone Biles' dramatic Olympics exit.

The 24-year-old, considered by many to be the greatest female gymnast of all time, made the shock decision on Wednesday (NZ time) to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 team gymnastics finals. Individual all-around and apparatus competitions still remain.

Just the day before, she had written on Instagram that she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Now a new account from inside Tokyo's gymnastics stadium has shed a light on the moment Biles bowed out.

Journalist James Matthey wrote for that despite a stadium packed with media, athletes and officials to watch Biles compete, something was obviously wrong after a lacklustre vault performance.

"After a jarringly shaky effort first up on the vault, where the four-time Olympic champion completed only 1.5 rotations instead of 2.5, Biles grimaced and walked back to the side of the apparatus. A couple of minutes later, she was walking off the floor with a trainer."

As Team USA moved onto the bar portion of the competition, alternate athlete Jordan Chiles was pulled off the bench because "her famous teammate was nowhere to be seen".

"About 15 minutes later, the 24-year-old reappeared. But any hope she'd be back in action was dashed when she put on her white team tracksuit and USA Gymnastics released a statement saying its golden girl had withdrawn."

Matthey wrote the stadium was "weirdly quiet" until US TV presenter Hoda Kotb yelled from the stands: "Don't y'all love Simone Biles!?"

"It was the quip that broke an uneasy silence. Biles, standing about 30m away, couldn't help but laugh. She bent over chuckling, then turned and gave an appreciative acknowledgement.

"The crowd wasn't quiet anymore. Huge applause broke out and a bunch of whooping and cheering too. Someone had pressed play on the party button."

From then on Biles was seen cheering on her teammates, carrying around their chalk container, and turning a sombre note into something "so uplifting".

"The truth is after making the decision to withdraw, free of the burden of expectation, Biles looked genuinely happy. Far happier than she did in the seconds after her awkward opening vault," Matthey said.

"Bounding around like a puppy, the Olympic veteran looked like that weight she'd talked about had well and truly been lifted off, and her teammates were feeding off her energy.

"Accepting she was struggling, and taking action, was as beneficial for Biles and Team USA as it was admirable."