Simone Biles says that she should not have competed at the Olympics.
The 24-year-old gymnast pulled out of four individual Olympic finals during Tokyo to protect her mental health after suffering from the so-called 'twisties'. She returned to compete in the balance beam final and won a bronze medal.
However, in a profile with The Cut, Biles has said that given the strain she suffered in the lead up to the Olympics, she should have withdrawn from competition before the event.
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“If you looked at everything I’ve gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team,” began Biles.
Biles, the most decorated gymnast of all time, prepared for the Olympics after coming forward as a victim of the Larry Nassar abuse scandal. That fallout continues, with Biles giving her testimony to a US Senate hearing regarding failings in the investigation and prosecution of Nassar just two weeks ago.
“I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was too much,” she adds.
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However, Biles added that she would not allow the disgraced former doctor to undo years of hard work.
But I was not going to let him take something I’ve worked for since I was six years old. I wasn’t going to let him take that joy away from me. So I pushed past that for as long as my mind and my body would let me.
However, at the Games, Biles suffered with the so-called ‘twisties’, where athletes lose all perspective of where they are in the air. After pulling out of the team final after her opening vault, she later withdrew from the all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor finals.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist added that the destabilising effect of the ‘twisties’ was similar to a loss of eyesight in everyday life.
“Say up until you are 30 years old you have your complete eyesight,” she added.
“One morning, you wake up, you can’t see s***. But people tell you to go on and do your daily job as if you still have your eyesight. You’d be lost, wouldn’t you?”
That’s the only thing I can relate it to. I have been doing gymnastics for 18 years. I woke up — [and] lost it. How am I supposed to go on with my day?
“Sometimes it’s like, yeah, I’m perfectly okay with it. Like, that’s how it works. That’s how it panned out. And then other times I’ll just start bawling at the house.”
Biles added that she would not “change anything because everything happens for a reason” despite some less than generous coverage of her decision, and the 24-year-old gymnast said that being Black will have affected that coverage.
“As a Black woman, we just have to be greater,” she tells the outlet. “Because even when we break records and stuff, they almost just dim it down. as if it’s just normal.”
“No, I wouldn’t change anything because everything happens for a reason,” she continues. “And I learned a lot about myself - courage, resilience, how to say no and speak up for yourself. It will [take] a long time for someone to accomplish what I’ve accomplished.”
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