Simone Biles has become the new athletic champion of mental health.
From her decision to stop competing during the Tokyo Olympics to testifying before Congress to hold the FBI accountable for not charging Larry Nassar earlier, Biles is the picture of living her truth.
Simone Biles Narrative
However, the narrative has expanded, as Biles revealed in a New York Magazine exclusive.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) September 27, 2021
“If you looked at everything I’ve gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team,” Simone tells the magazine, which described her as tearing up while she speaks.
“I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was too much,” she continued. “But I was not going to let him take something I’ve worked for since I was 6 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.”
The Biles Way
Biles is the most decorated gymnast of all time.
Her combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championships medals is not an aberration but a “God-given talent” in her purview.
“It’s kind of unheard of to win as many things as I have,” Biles said. “I don’t physically understand how I do it.”
What a beautiful, heartbreaking, empowering, and inspiring piece. @Simone_Biles has given me and us so much, and sharing her journey to the power of saying no and choosing yourself is as significant as any of it. She’ll never know how important this was for me to read right now. https://t.co/t838ROH543
— Divided States of Amanar (@dividedstateso1) September 27, 2021
However, Biles is a victim of assault and still found a way to persevere and become the best. Her realities include early childhood trauma of the foster care system while her mother struggled with addiction.
In addition, she battled injuries like a bone spur in 2013 and a shoulder strain in 2015. Still, she rose to not only become the face of an entire sport but the most marketable athlete in sports on SportsPro’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes list.
Biles edged out four-time Grand Slam tennis champion Naomi Osaka to take the top spot.
False Sense Of Security
While Biles stayed at the top of her game, she had a false sense of confidence about her career. Biles described how she felt great leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, even reassuring her physical therapist.
“I’m good enough to go. And they were like, ‘Yes, you’re good enough to go and do your stuff, but you have to come back.’ And I was like, ‘Nah, I’m good.'”
However, once she got to the Tokyo Olympics, she felt what they call gymnastics the “twisties.”
Sexual abuse destroys everything it touches. It leaves a wake of chaos and ugliness so blinding that it takes at least a lifetime to learn to live next to it. Simone Biles explains why in this gorgeous @NYMag @CAMONGHNE profile. https://t.co/rPBxpBsGep
— Caira Conner (@CairaConner) September 27, 2021
The feeling is an athletic phenomenon where muscle memory and mental acuteness don’t sync. In July, the decorated athlete decided to pull herself from the gymnastics team finals and the all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Leading up to it, I got more and more nervous; I didn’t feel as confident as I should have been with as much training as we had.
“My perspective has never changed so quickly from wanting to be on a podium to wanting to be able to go home, by myself, without any crutches.”
The New Courageous
Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka, aside from being the number one and two most marketable athletes globally, are also leading a wave of emotional vulnerability.
The way Colin Kaepernick stood up for social justice, Biles has taken the mantle for abuse survivors and women worldwide. As she continues her journey, we can now celebrate her wins off the mat as much as we did the one on it.