U.S. women’s national team forward Christen Press has offered her support for Simone Biles after the star American gymnast opted out of competition at the Olympics to focus on her mental health.

Biles pulled out of the team competition after some early struggles and later announced she would not be participating in the individual competition.

Press has said that athletes must prioritise their own well-being, saying she uses meditation to improve her mental health.

“I think it’s been important for everybody to learn during this time, that we do have to choose ourselves and we do have to take care of ourselves, and that is how we take care of our society and represent our country in a beautiful way,” Press told the media on Wednesday.

“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to develop a self love and self care that can power me through stressful times, and everybody manages that a little bit different.

“I have a twice-daily meditation practice that I rely on to decompress and to process things, and that’s something that I do inside of a major tournament but outside of a major tournament, and it’s really something that I do to balance myself day in, day out.

“Because, of course, people look at elite athletes and they say like, ‘That’s so stressful’ or, ‘That’s so hard,’ but all of our lives are stressful and we all have history and baggage, and I think as people knowing that it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves first, [that] can really help us take care of each other in a more beautiful way.”

Press was speaking ahead of the USWNT’s Olympic quarter-final on Friday against the Netherlands, which will be a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final.

The USWNT entered the Olympics as gold medal favourites but struggled through the group stage, earning just four points from three games.

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