HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Spring’s hometown hero Simone Biles is slated to return home on Thursday after her Olympic run, and her father tells he couldn’t be more proud of his daughter.
After withdrawing from the team competition, Biles later withdrew from the rest of the remaining events, except for the balance beam, in order to focus on her mental health.
Biles’ withdrawal sparked a worldwide conversation about mental health, especially for professional athletes.
Her father, Ronald Biles, told on Wednesday that he simply wanted Biles to be safe and healthy before anything else.
“Initially, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to compete at all,” said Ronald. “So we just said, ‘Hey, keep trying your best.’ She tried to fight this every day in hopes of improving. We just encouraged her. We told her, ‘Do what you have to do, but first of all, stay safe. Stay safe and healthy.'”
Two days before returning to the competition floor, Biles revealed to reporters that her aunt, who was Ronald’s sister, suddenly died. The heartbreaking family tragedy added to the obstacles Biles faced at the Summer Games.
“I didn’t want to tell her, but my wife did,” said Ronald. “She handled it OK. She handled it fairly well. She understands. It’s the second sister I’ve lost in two years.”
Biles is leaving the Summer Games as a seven-time Olympic medalist after winning bronze in the women’s balance beam final.
In an Instagram post Tuesday, Biles said it was not how she imagined or dreamed her second Olympics would go, but she’s “blessed to represent the USA.”
“She is a caring, loving person,” said Ronald. “She gives a lot of herself. She’s just not stuck on herself. She’s open to most people.”