Simone Biles became tied as the most decorated gymnast of all-time with a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals by winning two medals at this past summer’s Tokyo Olympics. However, the 24-year-old probably envisioned this most recent Games going differently.
Biles withdrew from a series of events after the vault in the women’s team competition and didn’t return until the individual balance beam finals after suffering from the “twisties,” which affected her balance and awareness while in the air. She stepped away for her own safety and spoke about the importance of preserving her mental and physical health during the rest of the Games.
Biles was applauded for her perseverance, but recently revealed that she “should have quit” competing professionally and internationally well before the Tokyo Olympics. She cited the difficulty of training amidst the news frenzy that covered the widespread sexual abuse committed by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar as a major reason for wanting to walk away.
“If you looked at everything I’ve gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team,” Biles told New York Magazine. “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 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.”
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) September 27, 2021
Biles recently testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the FBI’s handling of sexual abuse claims made against Nassar. During her emotional testimony, the 24-year-old blamed “an entire system that enabled and perpetuated his abuse.”
After overcoming a tremendous amount of hardship, Biles still managed to compete in the Tokyo Olympics and win a silver medal in the team event and a bronze in the individual balance beam competition. Although she might not hold the outright honor as most decorated gymnast of all-time, Biles will always be remembered as one of the greatest to ever compete and for her vast contributions to society outside of the realm of sports.
The New York Magazine full interview with Biles can be found here.