Simone Biles Said It “Just Sucks” That the Olympics Didn’t Go as Planned for Her
She said, though, that she knew it was in the team's best interest to pull out when she did.
Going into the Tokyo Olympics, gymnast Simone Biles was the favorite to sweep all the gold medals up for grabs. She was the returning gold medalist in the All-Around competition, and Team USA were the defending champs in the team competition. But when the events started, Biles found herself dealing with a mental health issue that forced her to sit out of nearly all of the competitions. She’s spoken out on the topic since the summer Games, mostly saying she was humbled by the support, but in a new interview with E! News, she’s finally admitted that while it was what she needed to do, it was disappointing to have to miss almost everything.
“I definitely had the team in my best interest, and that’s why I decided to pull out,” Biles said. “I didn’t want to potentially lose a medal spot for them. Because the girls were more than prepared to go in and to do their job, which they did.” Biles then got incredibly real about everything that went down, saying, “Even I didn’t know I was going through it until it just happened. It just sucks. Like, train five years, and it doesn’t go the way you wanted. But I know that I helped a lot of people and athletes speak out about mental health and saying no. Because I knew I couldn’t go out there and compete. I knew I was going to get hurt.”
While at the Olympics, Biles opened up about experiencing “the twisties,” an experience that some gymnasts go through where have brain fog while twisting in the air, making it incredibly dangerous for them to compete. Because they have no idea where they are in the air, it makes it harder for them to properly land. Biles was worried about hurting herself, which is why she chose not to compete in the All-Around, floor, uneven bars, and vault competitions. She took part in the final event, the balance beam, and won the bronze medal. But she tweaked her routine to remove any twisting stunts.
Since speaking up on mental health at the Games, more athletes have also come forward to acknowledge the topic and show her support. Biles, however, gave a nod to tennis star Naomi Osaka, who led the charge with this conversation when she opted to forego post-match press earlier this year at the French Open. She was slapped with a fine for not doing interviews and instead pulled out of competition—and then withdrew from Wimbledon as well, citing her own mental health in not dealing with intense questioning during a time when she needs to have razor-sharp focus on game play.
Because of these two women and other athletes who have spoken up, mental health has become more of a topic in the sports world—and is on its way to being valued just as much as physical health, as it should be.