- A Texas prosecutor criticized Simone Biles after she withdrew from two Olympic events in Tokyo.
- The remarks drew backlash, with one person saying Biles has “ten times the integrity than you do.”
- Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz apologized for speaking without full knowledge of the situation.
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A Texas attorney general caught some heat Wednesday after calling US Olympian Simone Biles a “selfish, childish national embarrassment” for withdrawing from two events at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Olympic gold medalist announced her withdrawal from women’s gymnastics team final at the Tokyo Games earlier this week, citing mental health concerns.
Some people drew comparisons between Biles’ exit and US gymnast Kerri Strug, who helped her team win gold in the 1996 Olympic Games despite having a broken ankle, showing what could happen when athletes push themselves too far.
Writer Chris Buskirk tweeted a video of Strug’s performance in 1996, saying she had “amazing grit” and that “the great ones find a way.”
-Chris Buskirk (@thechrisbuskirk) July 27, 2021
Aaron Reitz, a deputy attorney general in Texas, reshared Buskirk’s tweet, with the caption: “Contrast this with our selfish, childish national embarrassment, Simone Biles.”
The now-deleted post drew criticism, and one Twitter user responded to Reitz, saying Biles has “ten times the integrity than you do.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement he “learned about a very inappropriate and insensitive tweet by one of our employees” and that the matter “will be handled internally.”
“I know Simone Biles – she is a fantastic athlete but an even better person,” Paxton said in the statement. “Mental health is far more important than any athletic competition and I fully support her decision.”
Following the statement from the Office of the Texas Attorney General, Reitz later tweeted saying his “personal social media comments do not represent Attorney General Paxton or the Office of the Attorney General.”
“In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I opined on subjects for which I am not adequately versed,” Reitz said in a statement posted later Wednesday. “That was an error. I can’t imagine what Simone Biles has gone through.”
“Simone Biles is a true patriot and one of the greatest gymnasts of our time,” he added. “I apologize to her, and wish her well.”