Simone Biles got called ‘too fat’ by a coach: ‘I was crying’

Gold Medalist Olympian Simone Biles is not fat. I don’t need to tell you that, I realize, but somebody needed to tell her coach that in 2013. Simone, who was one of Glamour’s Women of the Year, has written a book, Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance. The book covers her childhood to her five medals in Rio last summer. Simone appeared on Today with Hoda Kotb and spoke about the account from her book when a coach said she wasn’t performing well because she was “too fat.”

Speaking to Today’s Hoda Kotb, the 19-year-old opened up about some of her struggles — including the time she was body-shamed by a coach.

It was in 2013 at a meet where Biles wasn’t performing as well as she had hoped.

“You overheard a coach say, ‘You know why she crashed? Because she’s too fat — that’s why. How does she expect to compete like that?’ ” Kotb prompted.

Biles said it was a hard comment for her to hear. “I dismissed myself from the floor so nobody could see me and I walked to the back behind the curtains and I was crying.”

But thanks to some inspirational words from her head team coordinator, Martha Karolyi, Biles managed to find the courage to pick herself up and move past the moment.

“Martha pulled me back on the floor and she gave me a little bit of a pep talk and was like, ‘See, you can’t train like this and let the results show,’ ” Biles said. “So I went back to the gym and I did as told. Her pep talk kind of gave me a little bit of an up rather than a down.”

“It felt good to hear her,” Biles added. “Because I was terrified she was going to be upset with me.”

[From People]

Somewhere Zac Efron just grabbed his wiffle-ball bat and bought a ticket to Texas. Were it me, I’d use my endorsement money to hire a marching band to parade in front of this guy’s house every morning at 3AM.But Simone is as gracious as she is accomplished. She’s using the opportunity to remind coaches of the power of positive reinforcement, which, I suppose, is better than my plan. In her book Simone also discusses her adoption, her time in foster care, being homeschooled, her love for gymnastics and her biological mother. But even though she wrote about her past, Simone always looks forward. When asked whether she can beat her Rio medal count in Tokyo 2020, Simone saw ahead and higher, saying, “I think anyone can get better, as long as you put your mind to it. You set new goals, so I don’t know if I can, but I hope I can.”

If you are looking for Christmas presents, a Disney Imagineer who went to school with Simone’s brothers has drawn a lovely book about Simon and the rest of the US Olympic team. Also, those on the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastic Champions did the Mannequin Challenge. How do they do this? I did ribbons when I was a gymnast so that’s my favorite part in this because honestly, that is how my routines usually ended up.

kelloggs tour mannequin challenge ✨

A video posted by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on


Photo credit: Getty Images and WENN Photos

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21 Responses to “Simone Biles got called ‘too fat’ by a coach: ‘I was crying’”

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  1. Locke Lamora says:

    I mean, she overheard it. It’s not like he said it to her face. And he didn’t say it for esthetic reasons, body weight is important for a top level athlete.
    I don’t know, I was mocked for my weight a lot so maybe these things don’t hurt me as much, but this doesn’t soind like a big deal to me.

    • MyrnaLoyal says:

      …so that makes it acceptable? What is your point? Just because people like you try to normalize it doesn’t mean it is acceptable to others with stronger ideologies and missions in this life. She’s telling a story about something that affected her. What is a big deal to her matters. What is a big deal to you is irrelevant. Only the mentally worthless would confuse the two.

      • Tanakasan says:

        Mentally worthless? Wow, you are cruel, which makes you worthless in your own right. The OP respectfully stated their opinion, maybe if you weren’t so worthless you could reply with some decency and respect.

    • Lena says:

      Wow. Are you freaking serious? Maybe her body weight wasn’t ideal for competition (i can’t judge that) but she certainly wasn’t fat!

    • Violet says:

      I think there is misogyny about women’s bodies in certain sports.

      This reminds me when there was that nytimes article about Serena Williams and how she was the best and some of the coaches and other women said “well yes, I could look like that and win, but I choose to look like a woman.” It’s a similar thing at play with Biles because gymnastics can award points for “artistry” – i.e. Looking slim or “elegant” – but only for women but not for men.

      Simone and Serena are the best in the world at what they do, and who gets to call them fat or say they don’t look like women. They are the best, their bodies are what they are, and losing weight/muscle would likely have limited their strength and accomplishments only so they can look marginally more “feminine”

      Who are the gatekeepers here? Who wins when Serena and Simone are fat, too muscular, etc? It’s bs to keep trying to make all women conform physically to some fake deal.

      • Simone says:

        Agree with most of your post, but you definitely do not get bonus points for being thin in gymnastics these days. All gymnasts are pretty slim, but look at the medal winners and top athletes for the last two decades. There is plenty of room for different body types.

    • Locke Lamora says:

      I fail to see where I said she doesn’t look feminine or that calling her fat was acceptable. I simply stated that her body weight is directly correlated to her performance, and there are different standards for athletes. I first heard of her this summer so I don’t know how she looked like in 2014. And the coach didn’t say it to her face, so maybe he would have been nicer if he knew she could hear him. And stronger ideologies? I’m not sure how not being easily hurt shows my ideologies, but fine.
      But I agree, just because I’m so used to beeing called fat doesn’t mean everybody is. I shouldn’t have minimised her experience.

      Oh, and are you guys saying that what he said would be okay if she was fat? Lovely.

  2. pagirl says:

    She is ALL MUSCLE. That coach needs to get his/her vision checked.

  3. BonnieJean says:

    Just look at her form. Magnificent!!

  4. Pedro45 says:

    That’s ironic. The Karolyis were both well known for body shaming their gymnasts.

    • PoliteTeaSipper says:

      No joke. That’s what I immediately thought of. Some of the things they did to their gymnasts was horrific.

    • Violet says:

      I read some of the diets used for Dominique Moceanu who the Karolyis said was fat, and it was horrifying.

  5. LO says:

    I have a hard time believing a gymnast at her level was anything but all muscle!!

  6. JRenee says:

    Regardless of sport, body shaming is not cool at all!

  7. Carey says:

    Um, that Disney imagineer is HOT!

  8. Lama Bean says:

    She looks AMAZING in that dress on the red carpet!

  9. Tanakasan says:

    That is not “body-shaming.” That word is so over-used. I’m surprised it wasn’t called “bullying,” the other word so over-used it’s become meaningless. That is a coach doing what all coaches do. Ballet teachers, gymnastic coaches, football coaches, track coaches – they all tell boys and girls and men and women to drop 5 lbs here, 10 lbs here, gain here, lose there. Is it terrible? I’m not an athlete, so I don’t know. Just seems like how sports has always been.

    • JRenee says:

      We can disagree. She’s more muscular than the standard gymnist. You could see it with her other 4 peers during the Olympics.
      The same with Serena.
      Just because they are more muscular, doesn’t mean they are fat. When people criticize their bodies, although their size is not negatively impacting their performance, it is body shaming.

  10. pinetree13 says:

    Honestly this is why I would never put my daughter in ballet, figure skating nor gymnastics. I know this will ruffle a few feathers, but I’ve had friends that competed professionally and to be honest, those sports are just TOXIC in a lot of ways for young girls.
    I remember when my friend, an multi-award winning skater and dancer, quit, I was shocked! However, it wasn’t until many years later she talked about the pressure, the normalization of eating disorders among the girls, and how she felt she really missed out on normal childhood/teenage hood because she went to a special school where many hours were spent skating and dancing meaning the time normal teens would hang out with friends was spent doing school work.
    I just think the pressure and stress placed on these young, young girls is just obscene. And then what? Most won’t go on to the olympics and even then your career is over at 20. I just feel like it’s unhealthy emotionally and physically too. Many former dancers in their 40′s have lots of arthritic issues in the neck and other issues because the constant arching and the way these sports make you throw your head back are really unhealthy in the long term. And because your training must start SO young, it’s really the adults in your life deciding because you had to start at such a young age you really didn’t get to live your life another way and make a choice after more experience.
    I hope this ramble made some-what sense, trouble getting my thoughts out coherently.

    • Violet says:

      Yes, there are studies showing that figure skating, gymnastics and ballet contribute to higher rates of body dysmorphia, eating disorders and stress fractures than say, women who play volleyball, soccer or softball.

      those are beautiful sports but for every Simone Biles, ally reisman, etc I wonder how many lives were ruined.

  11. Simone says:

    “Somebody needed to tell her coach that in 2013.” It wasn’t HER coach, Aimee, who is incredible. More coaches hould be like Aimee… She is retiring as a coach, so I hope Simone finds another person to mentor her in a nurturing way through the next quad.