Simone Biles bares herself in her latest interview, revealing her thoughts and feelings about her expectations in the Tokyo Olympics.
Simon Biles has revealed her innermost feelings about her role in the Tokyo Olympics in a new interview with The Cut. With the expectations of a whole country on her shoulders, she was pushed to perform at her best. These expectations weren’t without their setbacks however, as Biles was only months away from testifying against Larry Nassar, the disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor that sexually abused gymnasts in his care. With 499 known victims spanning over 20 years, the doctor is in jail and faces 235 years in prison.
However, Biles still needed to testify with teammate Raisman to investigate the FBI’s failure to inspect the countless allegations, as well as the USAG’s failure to report these findings.
“Before we entered the room, I was in the back literally bawling my eyes out. And then, of course, you have to pull yourself together and go out there, be strong for just that moment.”
Biles had kept the abuse to herself for two years, persevering with her gymnastics diligence, even winning 5 medals in Rio. However, in a 2018 Twitter statement recalling her abuse, she wrote “It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused”.
With the Olympics came more expectations for Simone Biles to perform at her peak. Ads for the Olympics in the US were predicting how many golds she would win, making the pressure for her insurmountable. Halfway through her time at the Tokyo Olympics, and in the midst of the team, all-around competition, she withdrew. Recalling her time on the vault, she described how she couldn’t visualise the floor around her, barely avoiding seriously injuring herself. She described her “twisties” experience like someone going blind, but still being expected to complete their everyday tasks without complaint.
Biles told The Cut in all honesty that:
“If you looked at everything I’ve gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team. I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was too much. 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.”
While there were multiple critics of her withdrawal, her fellow gymnasts gave her their support. Dominique Moceanu tweeted a 1996 clip where she fell on her head during the competition at 14. Kerri Strug also sent her love to Biles, who was also a 1996 Olympian that won gold but did so with a broken ankle. They saw her withdrawal as a sign of bravery, especially given her gymnastics status.
It also brought to mind the unfortunate incident of Russian gymnast Elena Mukhina. She was dismissed for voicing concerns about performing with a broken leg. Afterwards, she under-rotated, landed on her chin and became a paraplegic.
The Future of Simone Biles
Simone Biles has yet to comment on her future in gymnastics. But she has dedicated herself to stress the importance of mental health in all avenues. Her Facebook docuseries, Simone Vs Herself, has just released its last episode. It documents her roles as a gymnast, and the public struggle she has undergone in recent years.