Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz issued out an apology to Simone Biles after calling the decorated American gymnast a “national embarrassment.”
In a since-deleted tweet on Wednesday, Reitz responded to a video of Kerri Strug’s 1996 Olympic performance on an injured ankle, KHOU reports. Reitz used the video to “Contrast this with our selfish, childish national embarrassment, Simone Biles.”
Later that day, Reitz returned to Twitter to issue out a full statement apologizing to the four-time gold medalist. “I owe @Simone_Biles an apology. A big one,” Reitz said while sharing the lengthy statement.
— Aaron Reitz (@aaron_reitz) July 28, 2021
Reitz comments come after Biles pulled out of the finals in the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday to focus on her mental health. Biles explained her reasoning and credited it to the pressure she was feeling to perform well.
“We also have to focus on ourselves because at the end of the day, we’re human too,” Biles said. “We have to protect our mind and our body rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”
Amid the debate over professional athletes making their mental health a priority, Reitz is under fire from many who accuse him of being insensitive to the issue.
“Yes, you do!!!!!!, You degraded her shame on you,” one Twitter user said in response. “The mental health crisis is a serious epidemic problem in the US and your downplaying of what she is going through is shameful.”
Others equated Biles’ slander to the fact that she is a Black woman.
“Between Simone and (tennis great) Naomi Osaka kind of really taking a forefront and saying, ‘You know, I’m protecting my mental health,” Dr. Antoinette Wilson told CBS News.
“Honestly, a lot of that criticism is tinged with some misogyny and racism,” Wilson added. “Simon Biles is a Black woman. Osaka identifies as a black woman as well, Japanese and Black.”