Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz is apologizing for calling Simone Biles a “national embarrassment” following her withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics to focus on her mental health.
In a since-deleted tweet, Reitz on Tuesday called the four-time Olympic gold medalist a “selfish, childish national embarrassment” while retweeting video of former US Olympian Kerri Strug competing at the 1996 games in Atlanta with a severely injured ankle.
“In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I opined on subjects for which I am not adequately versed,” Reitz said in a statement later Wednesday. “That was an error. I can’t imagine what Simone Biles is going through.”
Reitz went on to call Biles, 24, a “true patriot” and one of the “greatest gymnasts” of her time.
“I apologize to her, and wish her well,” Reitz’s statement continued, adding that his previous critique did not represent the views of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Reitz’s mea culpa came hours after Paxton tweeted that he learned of a “very inappropriate tweet” by one of his employees, saying ther matter would be handled internally.
“I know Simone Biles – she is a fantastic athlete but an even better person,” Paxton tweeted of his fellow Texan. “Mental health is far more important than any athletic competition and I fully support her decision.”
Some praised Reitz for his apology, while others done the damage was already done.
“Can’t unring that bell, son,” one reply read. “Your true nature is already displayed.”
Biles was in the stands late Thursday in Tokyo during the women’s gymnastics all-around final, cheering on her teammates after winning the event in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The face of Team USA shocked the sports world two days earlier with her withdrawal from the team competition due to the mental toll of the lofty expectations she faced.
Biles tweeted a message to her 1.5 million followers late Wednesday, saying the “outpouring” of love and support she’s received since her contentious decision made her realize she’s “more” than her accomplishments in gymnastics, “which I never truly believed before.”
Biles had told reporters there was “more to life than just gymnastics” after Team USA won the silver medal in the women’s team competition in her absence.
”This medal is all of them and the coaches and nothing to do with me,” Biles added. “I tried to go out there for the team, and they stepped up to the plate.”
With Post wires
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