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Soviet champion Latynina ponders pressures on Biles

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Larisa Latynina is the most decorated Olympic gymnast in history.

The 86-year-old Soviet gymnast has 18 medals.

Like much of the world, she was stunned to see Simone Biles, the four-time Olympic champion withdraw from events due to mental health concerns.

Biles could have challenged Latynina's record of 32 combined Olympic and world championship medals.

But the Soviet athlete says gymnastics has become even more physically and psychologically grueling than in her day.

"What we did is not comparable to what modern gymnasts do. Looking at what gymnasts do today, I'm a little afraid. I don’t know if I would have started gymnastics or not."

Biles was expected to be a frontrunner in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

But she withdrew from the gymnastics team finals and all-around individual finals due to concerns about her mental well-being.

Her decision has sparked an outpouring of support from athletes and Hollywood for being vocal about her mental health and prioritizing it.

Latynina says it’s definitely a new trend.

"In our day that would have been - that would have been unacceptable."

In Latynina's era there was pressure, of course, to win medals for the Soviet Union, which used elite sport as a tool to boost its international prestige.

But she Said Soviet authorities' desire for the country's athletes to top medal tables was not perceived as coercion.

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