Piers Morgan has attracted another storm of criticism after lashing out against yet another high-profile woman of colour.
This time, it’s after he said it was a “joke” that decorated US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from Tuesday’s women’s team final for mental health reasons.
Earlier in the day Ms Biles, the most successful US gymnast of all time, announced she wouldn’t be participating in the upcoming women’s team gymnastics final after coming in for the worst vault score in her storied career. She said the pressure of being the world’s pre-eminent gymnast was causing her mental health to deteriorate, leaving her worried she’d leave the Games “on a stretcher.”
“I don’t trust myself as much anymore. Maybe it’s getting older. There were a couple of days when everybody tweets you and you feel the weight of the world,” she said of the decision. “‘We’re not just athletes. We’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back. I didn’t want to go out and do something stupid and get hurt. I feel like a lot of athletes speaking up has really helped.”
This decision apparently irked the former Good Morning Britain host, who suggested she wasn’t being sincere and was merely upset over a “poor performance.”
“Are ‘mental health issues’ now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? What a joke,” Morgan wrote on Twitter. “Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time. Kids need strong role models not this nonsense.”
The comments were quickly criticised, with people arguing Morgan has a penchant for targeting Black women struggling with mental health, following previous digs at tennis star Naomi Osaka and Meghan Markle after they shared their own experiences.
“Once again Piers Morgan has shown he has no respect for black women, going out of his way whenever he can to be nasty to any high profile black woman who struggle with their mental health,” wrote British DJ Jumpin Jack Frost.
Others, like writer David Gardner, pointed out how the TV presenter had defended other public figures struggling with mental health, like footballer Paul Gascoigne, while labelling Ms Osaka an “arrogant spoiled brat” and “petulant little madam” for withdrawing from the French Open for mental health reasons.
“Piers Morgan has repeatedly defended Paul Gascoigne during his mental health struggles,” Mr Gardner tweeted. “But he won’t extend the same sympathy to Naomi Osaka, Meghan Markle or Simone Biles. I wonder why.”
One cheeky Twitter user noted that like Biles, Morgan famously walked away from his job at a key moment, during an on-air row with his co-hosts about his comments about the Duchess of Sussex’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Morgan had said he “didn’t believe a word” of what Ms Markle said in the interview, where she spoke of racism and suicidal thoughts during her time as a royal.
The presenter left ITV in March, and later conceded that it was “not for me to question if she felt suicidal.”
The Independent is attempting to reach Morgan for comment on this story.
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