Simone Biles is ‘just dealing with some things internally which will get fixed’

Tokyo 2020 - Gymnastics

Whenever I watched the women’s gymnastics in recent days, Simone Biles always looked like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. She looked so stressed and unhappy and it definitely felt like there was some lowkey speculation about what was going on. By Tuesday morning here in the US (Tuesday evening in Tokyo), Simone had withdrawn from the group competition. In the first hour or so, there was some back-and-forth about what was happening until finally there was a consensus: Simone is struggling with her mental health. The other ladies on Team USA did their best to cover for Biles, who was/is their team leader and anchor in group competition. Team USA ended up winning silver – Russia (ROC) won gold, and Britain won bronze (Britain was thrilled with bronze).

After her withdrawal, Simone stayed on the floor and cheered on her teammates. Simone spoke to the press several times too over the course of the evening. Biles told Hoda Kotb on Today: “Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape. Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat, so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’ll see.” Being the “head star” is a big part of it – she’s not just the star and face of women’s gymnastics, Simone is the star of American Olympic coverage, featured heavily on all of the promos. She also told Hoda that she isn’t sure if she’ll compete in the all-around and that “We’re going to take it day by day, and we’re just gonna see.” In the team’s press conference, she spoke at length about the emotional pressure she’s been under :

In a surprise reversal of her Tokyo Olympic hopes, Simone Biles exited the women’s gymnastics team final early on Tuesday night in Japan — after briefly leaving the competition floor following a botched showing on the vault, her first event. Speaking after the final ended, Biles said she was “okay, just dealing with some things internally which will get fixed out in the next couple of days.”

Her choice was not connected to an injury, she said. Instead she described an almost overbearing amount of stress in the lead-up to Tuesday night. If she had continued to compete while under such pressure and as mentally off-kilter as she felt, she said, she worried she would have risked the squad’s medal chances. She hoped to reset with a break from practice on Wednesday and she told reporters she planned to return for Thursday’s all-around final, though she also said on Today that she was “going to take it day by day and we’re just going to see.”

In a statement to PEOPLE and other outlets, USA Gymnastics said during the event that Biles had “withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”

Biles, the reigning Olympic all-around champion and five-time medalist, initially left the floor with the team’s medical trainer Marcia Faustin following her vault routine in the final, in which she bailed on her planned Amanar vault for an easier 1.5 twist and posted a 13.766. That was the lowest vault score of Biles’ Olympics career, an event in which she had dominated for years — until now.

[From People]

People made one point which really resonated with me, which is that if Simone’s mentality was off in any way and she tried to force herself to compete, the worst case scenario could be paralysis, broken bones or some severe injury. This isn’t a case of “what are you afraid of, losing?” If she tried to perform physically without her focus and mental strength, she could do irreparable damage to her body.

Simone’s teammates Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum were apparently freaking out when she told them she was withdrawing. Simone told Hoda: “They were freaking out. They were like, crying, and I was like, ‘You guys need to relax, you’re going to be fine without me, go out there and kick some butt, just like we’ve done in training. And just lay it out on the floor and see what happens!’ For me, I’m proud for how the girls stepped up and did what they had to do. I owe this to the girls, it has nothing to do with me. I am very proud of them.”

After cheering for her teammates and doing press, Simone was evaluated once again by the on-site medical team, and she withdrew from the individual all-around competition “in order to focus on her mental health.”

Embed from Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 - Gymnastics

Tokyo 2020 - Gymnastics

Photos courtesy of Getty, Avalon Red.

Related stories

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

72 Responses to “Simone Biles is ‘just dealing with some things internally which will get fixed’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Jo73c says:

    I just want her to be OK.

    • Ronaldinhio says:

      Same.
      She always seems to have so much more required off her than anyone else.
      She’s a legend but she deserves better treatment

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      Agree. An Olympic medal is not as important as mental/physical health. Simone doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone at this point.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Same. She’s been under a lot of pressure and even though this couldn’t have been an easy choice, it will probably be better for her in the long run.

  2. Mich says:

    People is wrong. The worst case scenario if she competes without being in the right headspace is death.

    We are living in Roman arena times where people are expected to perform for our amusement even if it means they could die. This is especially true of black athletes.

    • josephine says:

      I also find it interesting that this Olympic is where female athletes are protesting the ridiculous attire that they are required to wear by rule. Watching the beach volleyball is infuriating. Women have to wear super skimpy bottoms while men get comfy and baggy shorts. There are sports in which the skimpy attire is part of the competition (swimming) but volleyball is not one of them.

      And predictly that piece of garbage Piers Morgan came after Simone. He really is less than human at this point.

      • Size Does Matter says:

        There are some seriously naked-adjacent “uniforms” for both women and men this year. The men’s speedos are an inch or two from full frontal and I’m pretty sure I saw a woman’s entire ass during beach volleyball. It was a very nice ass, but still.

      • josephine says:

        @ Size Does Matter: The difference is that the men are not required to wear those suits, and the suits have some advantage for the event itself. In the sports in which the women are required to wear bikini bottoms, there is no functionality at all for the bikinis. Super tight and barely there gear has its place in a lot of sports, but the issue is *requiring* skimpy gear where it has no function at all.

      • Sue M says:

        Swimming now has quite covered up suits for men and women. They are made of some kind of fabric that enhances how the athletes slide through the water. Remember a few years ago some swimmers were wearing full body suits. Those suits were banned as they gave those competitors who could afford them too much of an advantage. Hence the suits they are using now with the long shorts legs. In women’s gymnastics, a unitard or a leotard is a choice. Track, some wear long short suits similar to the women’s swim suits, and some wear very short bottoms. The thing with these sports is that there is a personal choice as to what to wear while competing. For beach volleyball and beach handball, women are required to wear those bikinis, and men are allowed to wear the baggy shorts and tank tops. This seems egregiously sexist to me.

    • molly says:

      This is exactly right. I know Michael Phelps owes us NOTHING of his own story in an interview about Simone, but he’s been open about his own mental health and contemplated suicide. He’s one of the few people who’s been where Simone has been, and his empathy here is extremely valuable.

    • meloroast says:

      Could not agree with you more. I really hope this and Naomi Osaka highlights the need for a conversation that is well overdue.
      I felt extremely proud of Simone when I heard she was pulling out. And in the middle of a mental health crisis of my own, broke down in tears in a weird release of my own. It is likely the hardest thing she has ever done. But it shouldn’t be.

      I am also black and have felt my entire life, that the expectations (both academic and athletic) were above and beyond my non-black counter parts. Part of that pressure is absolutely self-imposed. But when you are a visible minority in a space not often historically occupied by people who look like you, you are not just expected to participate. If you are taking that space, they want you to dance monkey dance. Be the best or you are wasting the opportunity. You have to excel. You have to be the absolute best.

      Let’s start to ask ourselves why and how we can allow these women to feel worthy just being.

      • Lilibetp says:

        Meloroast, I’m so sorry you and other WOC constantly face this. I’ve heard stories from some of my friends that have horrified me. I wish I could make it better.

      • Anna says:

        So true on every front. I operate at 200% in order to prove my right to be there (yes, BW are forced to prove, constantly) next to people getting paid the same or much more who dial it in at 50%. I’m so tired. Thank goodness a health issue and having health insurance allowed me to recalibrate. Now I just can’t operate at that level and it makes me physical ill to do so. Self-prioritization is the only way forward. As so many have been saying on IG, Biles (and Black women) do not owe anyone anything. We are constantly expected to jump when any mf says jump and to just take it when we are insulted, disrespected, underpaid, and otherwise treated like less than trash. August 3 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that on average, we have to work to in order to make as much as white men did the last year. Eight f-ing months. I’m just so sick of this shit tbh.

  3. Cathy says:

    It goes even beyond risk of severe injury – if she balked mid-skill, it could be life-threatening with the height she gets.

    My heart breaks for her, but she is setting a wonderful example for young girls and woman about boundaries and protecting their health.

    • Jen says:

      It’s not so much “balking,” I think, as loosing sense of where she is in the air relative to the ground. Which certainly could be deadly–it’s not a tennis match where losing focus means you miss a shot or serve, you’re literally ten feet in the air flipping and twisting and a missed landing could be fatal.

  4. Izzy says:

    These Olympic games in particular have the added stress of taking place during a pandemic. This time hasn’t been easy for anyone, I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have the added pressure Simone has.

    • Anna says:

      So true. And she usually has her family with her as support so this does make a difference on top of everything else.

  5. Oh_Hey says:

    Leave. Her. Alone.
    Simone is one of the best to have ever done her sport AND the rest of the team are also insanely good. Remember they came in second and with a wide margin between them and third. They are other Americans include Simone’s alternate that are also best in the world including the other American that came in third in the individual trials. By focusing on Simone we’re not helping her mental health and ignoring the complete awesomeness of the rest of the team.

    • Truthiness says:

      NBC needs to stop obsessively focusing on gold and creating narratives that medal winners need to repeat, but also just lay off all Simone stories. NBC should not use her as a story to flog every 5 minutes! It’s creating a hype monster that has to fed every minute. No one should have the right to get in her head right now, Nastia Liukin shouldn’t be texting her for NBC updates. Leave Simone alone! They are ignoring whole disciplines to focus on swimming and gymnastics, wtf. There are tons of stories they aren’t covering!

      • Edna says:

        Agreed. NBC has done a piss poor job broadcasting the Olympics. The media coverage has been deplorable and over the top. The relentless pressure put upon Simone and other athletes is damaging and disgraceful.

      • Anna says:

        The glorious Quinta B has a funny but so true video on IG today where she is interviewed about her silver medal by a reporter who keeps insisting on dragging her down about only getting silver. It’s hilarious and awful for how true it is.

    • Steph says:

      Let’s also consider how triggering these competitions can be on an SA survivor. People focused Or manipulating her body could cause some unexpected mental anguish. I think she’s an amazing athlete and person. I’ll fight Piers Morgan for her!

  6. MellyMel says:

    I learned a new term yesterday…Simone said she was going through the “twisties” and based on a really good twitter thread where a bunch of other gymnasts were commenting, I’m glad Simone stepped away. She could have seriously hurt herself and that would have tragic. Her mental health is more important than another medal or what a bunch of ppl sitting on their couches judging, think of her.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Nastia Lukin gave a really good explanation of the twisties last night. Another phrase they use is “lost in the air,” which the male commentator used last night when they showed Simone’s vault. Nastia pointed to that moment where Simone’s arms seemed to be in the wrong place, her expression looked confused, and she altered the move. Nastia said they completely lose all sense of balance, forget what they are doing, and lose control of their bodies. The results can be deadly.

      • Lizzie says:

        I saw that too. She looked a bit panicked for a split second. That must have been a frightening moment.

      • windyriver says:

        Saw this interview as well. Lukin also said the twisties are very common, have happened at some point to pretty much every gymnast, including herself.

        I can’t imagine trying to sort through this in Simone’s position, on the global stage with the spotlight on her. In retrospect, though, she was trying, and even with uncharacteristic shakes before the competition, still attempted to compete. Smart and mature move to withdraw herself immediately, for her own health and safety, but also realizing the teams’ chances would be hurt by her poor performance. Admirable too staying to enthusiastically support her teammates, while at the same time being very open about her struggle – and demonstrating (as Michael Phelps has also said) that even the GOAT is human, and taking care of your mental as well as physical health is as important as anything else.

        ETA: It was very clear in the moments before she began her run to the vault that she was struggling somehow. How scary is must have been to then launch herself in the air and suddenly feel lost.

    • Leigh_S says:

      I can understand this a little.

      I compete my horses in eventing, which inclues solid jumps that don’t fall. Some of the jumps have a very ramped front, which I’ve always struggled to process well. I’ve had issues processing the length of the front face as the jump height. If I’m unusually tired, its like my focus point slides along the surface without anywhere to settle and judge the distance.

      The result is that I’m uncertain where to expect the takeoff point. Its scary, and even at my lower level its risky when it happens. That’s only losing my orientation in a horizontal direction. Losing it in the vertical as well 10 feet in the air? Sweet merciful god, its terrifying

  7. Angie says:

    I spent too much time reading comments on different sites yesterday and it continues to just be so sad to me how racism is just lurking so closely to the surface for black people. She went from being the GOAT (which she still is, but it’s a problematic term that imparts too much pressure) to people absolutely tearing her to bits and being incredibly racist for this decision. Black women have no margin of error in this world and it’s like people don’t realize we struggle with mental health like the rest of the world (see: Meghan markle). They built her up so much just to tear her down.

    Edit: I will say it’s been great to see black women coming out and discussing their mental health (Meghan Markle, Naomi Osaka, now Simone). I’m sick of having to “be strong” but not angry and be feminine but not be able to leverage that femininity. It’s a lot to deal with and people need to see we are human too.

    • MrsBump says:

      I understand what you are saying but will all due respect, Meghan Markle/Naomi Osaka/Simone should not have to represent the struggles of black women or women in general. Even if it wonderful to see people like us up there doing great things, this pressure to represent and not let the side down is too great. I for one, do not want that on my conscience.

      • Angie says:

        But where did I say they have to do it? I said it’s been great to see. Nowhere did I say they need to do it. I’m a black woman in a corporate job and I would never place expectations on anyone because I know how it feels.

      • Anna says:

        @MrsBump Not *have* to but are constantly *expected* to. We don’t usually have a say. It just goes with the systemic territory in Amerikkka.

    • Anna says:

      @Angie Yes yes and yes to all. It’s exhausting on a spirit level as well.

  8. MrsBump says:

    I’m not American, so maybe i cannot understand the culture, but this intense celebrity worship of sportswomen/men is insane no wonder these young women only just as the cusp of womanhood cannot cope with the glare of this ridiculous limelight.
    They are considered as some sort of demi-gods, idolized, told they are the GOAT, she responded the absolute best way she could, by telling people that she is only human, and even then, i’ve seen so many comments/articles of people now brandishing her as spokeswoman for mental health, as a role model. Just let this girl be already ! She is cracking under the pressure of American society’s expectations on her, even in “defeat” ( and i use this word for lack of a better one), she is being brandished as a totem.

    • Simone says:

      I came here to say that. I’m not American. This GOAT cr@p & sportsperson idolisation is part of this “American Exceptionalism” nonsense. It’s time for some modesty & realism instead. If she’s injured, then expectations should have been managed so she can just perform at whatever level she’s capable of, secure in the knowledge that she’s still loved & admired & considered good enough.

    • equality says:

      Curious where you are from? I’ve seen the same type of behavior in Brits, related to football especially. The Italians seem to have high expectations of sports people also. Russia to me seems to put the most pressure on athletes in the Olympics. In Brazil soccer stars are idolized. I don’t think this idolizing of athletes is peculiar to the US. And I don’t pay a lot of attention because I’m not really into sports.

      • Simone says:

        I think it’s hard to explain to an American but I’ll try. I’m Australian. We idolise athletes but there’s a natural humility to Aussies & even famous people are expected to retain it or they’re labelled “up themselves.” I don’t mean to be rude, I mean that the concept of “American Exceptionalism” is something we foreigners talk about & it’s written about quite a bit – the lack of humility, the putting of people on pedestals, the pressure on people to be perfect. I live in Italy. There was obviously massive hope of winning the Euro Championship (soccer) but there was also the awareness that we might lose. A hugely famous player missed a penalty shot and we lost the world cup to Brazil in 1994. The country was crushed, so there was a certain managing of expectations before this final & extreme anxiety during it. I agree with you – the UK were acting like they’d already won before the game had been played. There’s also a concept of “British Exceptionalism” which Meghan ran into when she was over there.

      • Miranda says:

        Yeah, the idolization of athletes is as old as sport itself, and happens in every culture. And the fact is, while most Western athletes, governing bodies, and fans will be sympathetic and support Simone, an analogous athlete in some countries would still risk being regarded as a national disgrace because many governments actively politicize sport. So I think praising her actions is necessary and fair in the interest of normalizing them for all athletes everywhere. In saying that, of course we must still try to respect her privacy and her humanity, but the entire human race really needs to work on that in general, and not just with regards to public figures,

      • equality says:

        @Simone You do realize that generalizing about Americans and assuming no American can understand humility comes across as exceedingly xenophobic and condescending. There are many athletes in the US who give credit to others and to God for their talent. And there are over 200 countries with entries in the Olympics hoping for medals. So you cannot convince me that hero-worship (including royal worship, athletes, performers, etc.) doesn’t exist in other countries, however humble or not those people may be.

      • Anna says:

        Tread carefully when discussing European football culture and the way they treat their players. I’m sure the Black players in these leagues would have something to say on this with regard to this idea that they are forgiven for mistakes or seen as human. Every week horror stories about how white (and other non-Black) fans treat Black players.

      • equality says:

        @Anna But it is similar. Had the British team won the response for them would have been intense also. The response against them is sort of how some people are reacting with Simone.

    • Eurydice says:

      For most Olympic athletes, the “celebrity worship” only happens once every four years when the Olympic committees and the broadcast network ramp up their advertising. Simone is different because she’s won pretty much everything in the gymnastics world for a very long time – she’s a star and there’s nothing wrong with having the public acknowledge that. For all the expectations the public has, Simone’s have been even higher. It takes incredible strength to identify one’s limits in the face of all the expectations, hers included.

      And yes, Simone is a role model, because she has chosen to be one – she’s said so herself. She has been active in using her voice to call out gymnastics leadership, to advocate for mental health, to support younger athletes and I think she will continue doing that.

    • Truthiness says:

      Well I am an American and I agree that the extreme focus is f***ed up. And could we please recognize and CELEBRATE the team winning a silver medal?! Suni, Jordan and Grace were stunning, amazing and deserve our accolades. Every. Medal. Counts. We see you and we love you, medal or no medal. Even just making it to the Olympics counts. Take the pressure off Simone, honor her boundaries (!!) and listen to a hundred different stories right under NBC’s nose.

  9. M says:

    Still the undisputed GOAT, maybe even more so. I just wanna give her a big hug. I cannot fathom the pressure she has been under. I hope she finds her peace.

  10. Sofia says:

    Olympics is tough especially in a pandemic and even more so when you’re a black woman so you’ve got to work extra hard to prove yourself. I hope she recovers and wish her all the best.

  11. Becks1 says:

    Oh I didn’t realize she had withdrawn from the individual all-around. I hope she is okay.

    She is under an enormous amount of pressure and at this point I think she has the reputation to be able to say “I’m not doing it” but it makes me think of those who don’t have that reputation and feel they have something to prove – or thinking about the younger gymnasts who have competed over the years (Simone is 24, remember when it seemed most of the gymnasts were 15 or 16?) and the pressure they were under. The gymnasts become superstars over the course of the games and I can’t imagine what they go through.

  12. Myra says:

    She has already accomplished so much in her life at such a young age. She should be able to take her time as she needs to recuperate and be in the right frame of mind. She is an incredibly skilled athlete, but more importantly, she’s human. Her safety is more important than any medal. The other girls did really well, as did the gold medal winners.

  13. Edna says:

    Praying for Simone, she did the right thing withdrawing, she could have seriously injured herself. She got the “twisties” which basically means she became disoriented in midair. Being disoriented like that and losing spatial awareness could have had disastrous results.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/2021/07/28/simone-biles-withdraws-all-around-final-tokyo-olympics/

  14. Miranda says:

    As a former gymnast myself, I was so proud of Simone for knowing where to draw the line. I saw some people online who were basically saying it was a tantrum because she was performing poorly, which was infuriating. This “warrior culture” is harmful wherever it pops up, but particularly in sports, and especially sports like gymnastics. In other sports, forcing yourself to compete when you’re not in the right headspace usually just means you’re going to make a poor showing and, yes, be prone to making uncharacteristic mistakes that can lead to injury. But those injuries are very, very rarely life-altering or even deadly. There’s exceedingly little room for error in elite gymnastics.

    Simone has done things that gymnasts not much older than she is would never have dreamed of even trying. She has nothing to prove to anybody. She’s still the GOAT, even more so now that she’s shown others that it’s OK to put your mental health first.

    • Eurydice says:

      I’m a former gymnast, as well. Well, from ancient times when we could never imagine the skills women are doing to day, but I still remember that almost all of my errors (especially on beam) were mental – hesitation, nervousness, doubting my training. Powering through a physical injury was actually easier than dealing with the mental hiccups.

      • Miranda says:

        My last competition was in 2008, which doesn’t seem that far back in calendar years, but I guess is almost like a generation ago in “gymnast years”. And I’m in awe of the stuff she’s accomplished. After I called it quits, my dad admitted that in all my years of competing, he never saw me perform a vault live, because it made him so nervous that he’d just look at the floor until he knew I’d landed it. That’s how I’ve felt watching Simone in recent months.

        And I agree that physical pain and injury was nothing (gymnasts are just really flamboyant masochists, after all!) compared to mental obstacles. My weakness was always bars, and some of my slip-ups stayed with me to the extent that I sometimes still flinch when I watch my niece practicing a skill that I belly-flopped on 15 years ago!

  15. Moxylady says:

    What she did took so much courage. I admire her even more for it.
    And Jesus. Most people I know are having panic attacks going into stores or parties for the first time in a year to 18 months. Dealing with Olympic pressure after a year of world wide pandemic trauma??? I can’t fathom it.

  16. Chelsea says:

    You’re right Kaiser. If she had chosen to compete knowing she was not in the right state of mind she could have severely injured herself and (obviously less importantly) lost Team USA more points. It’s an unfortunate situation but she did not only what was best for her but also for the team in this instance. I honestly can’t imagine the weight of being the face not only of Team USA at the Olympics but also unfortunately the face of sexual assault survivors in sports in this country. She’s been through way too much and was let down horrifically by US Gymnastics and our Olympic committee yet still continued to represent us and win.

    I feel like their really needs to be more care taken in discussing the trauma she’s endured when talking about her mental health and her decision to pull out. There needs to be more empathy shown here as this was a horrific situation that unfortunately 100s of girls were subjected to by an institution that we still all somehow turn on the tv and cheer for to win gold. We need to remember that these girls are humans not show ponies and we should support them and treat them respect.

  17. Sunday says:

    The coverage of this yesterday was so frustrating; huge “tell me you know nothing about gymnastics without telling me” energy. Getting ‘lost in the air’ is extremely serious and has resulted in paralysis for other gymnasts. It isn’t a case of Simone being a quitter who was feeling sad and decided to bail on her team. It meant Simone had to make an incomprehensibly difficult call to withdraw from the Olympics knowing full well the sh*tstorm of negativity she’d get for it, because she knew it was the right decision both for her safety and health and also for her teammates. She must be devastated. Her scores would have weighted down her team’s average and potentially cost them the medal – NBC got there eventually, sort of, but WOW how long it took to get that out was pathetic on the part of all sports media, and by that time it was way too late and the “Simone’s a quitter!” narrative was running full steam ahead. Just awful. I hope she knows how much she’s loved, regardless of whether she competes or not.

    • Duch says:

      Yes, and “tell me you know nothing about mental health, without telling me” and “tell me you know nothing about the horrific scale of sexual abuse of minors that coaches, USA gym federation and the FBI permitted, without telling me”

  18. Gab says:

    I think they psyched her out too much by making such a big deal about her. The other girls were good too but she was the only one the announcers ever talked about. It got in her head and she couldn’t concentrate. It’s sad.

  19. Julia K says:

    Could her presence at the Olympics have triggered memories of her prior sexual abuse at the hands of the former team doctor? PTSD? Many things can be true at the same time; fear of bodily injury, anxiety, panic etc. I feel for her. Her pain is real.

    • Jenna says:

      I know she said she was struggling without her parents there. But yeah, I think she took a look around, took stock, looked inside and thought, why am I doing this?

    • Anna says:

      Yes, and being in Japan with the connection to that time/abuse.

  20. Fen says:

    Is there a reason Great Britain shouldn’t be pleased with the bronze?

    • HandforthParish says:

      No, why?
      They weren’t expecting it, they performed amazingly on their last apparatus and snatched the medals from the Italians.
      They all looked delighted, and rightly so.

  21. Jenna says:

    A friend’s daughter had been in gymnastics for years, and was getting up there in terms of skill and competition level. Like anyone who knows someone in competitive gymnastics, I have no shortage of horrifying stories about what goes on.

    Besides TWO of the coaches in my friend’s daughter’s gym eventually being convicted and jailed for child sex abuse, one story stands out.

    There always seem to be two girls, typically older, who are the best at everything. They are set against each other, natural rivals, in that “who wants it more?” dynamic. The other girls resent them, they despise each other, and it is absolutely by design.

    One of these girls balked during a beam dismount and ended up with a neck injury (a small stress fracture, I think). Everything had revolved in the weeks leading up to the state meet around whether or not this girl was “ready” to get back on the beam. She was the great hope for the team, did she have what it takes, was she going to let the other girl take it away from her, was she going to tank a potential college scholarship, etc., blah, blah.

    The fear wasn’t that she’d actually BREAK HER NECK because she was not ready. The fear was that she’d be too afraid to continue and the gym would lose the state championship. That previously-interested college recruiters would pass her over for not “having what it takes.”

    This was just state-level athletes, not the world stage of Olympics-level competition. It was just completely messed up what the coaches, parents, teammates, and the sport in general expected of this injured and scared teenaged girl.

    • Cheryl says:

      Can confirm. This is exactly what I have seen first hand. Truly thought adults and coaches would be annoyed if a kid broke themselves/lay lifeless after hurting themselves at their command/expectation.
      You do not get taken seriously or trained seriously if you show any kind of fear. If you are injured, please don’t inconvenience the goals of the head coach.

    • SenseOfTheAbsurd says:

      A book came out years and years ago, called (I think) Pretty Girls in Little Boxes. Investigative journalism into the phyisical, mental and sexual abuse that had become normalised in gymnastics and figure skating. Looks like nothing much changed, until Simone Biles and people like her took a real stand against the exploitation and abuse.

      At this point, I find everything about the Olympics really distasteful. Racist, misogynist, exploitive, corrupt and full of horrible nationalism.

      • Anna says:

        So Biles is going up against this entire history plus being Black and all of the other factors she must deal with amidst pandemic. She is the Goat and I would say that about any one of my friends who stood up for themselves in this way.

  22. zinjazin says:

    She seems so wise and calm. What a lovely girl. I cried when she said something like; to step down can show you’re a stronger player.
    I could relate, and it was moving for me to hear someone put that into words right now.

  23. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    Can I also say how well Jordan Chiles did, after being called on to do the uneven bars at the last second? She must have been under great pressure at that moment. These athletes are amazing.

    • Truthiness says:

      Holy sh*t that was amazeballs. Jordan seized the moment with gusto and got everyone cheering. And she had what, 30 seconds to prepare? All 3 were outstanding!

  24. Janice Hill says:

    USA Gymnastics said during the event that Biles had “withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”

    Do sports associations say things like this about male athletes? The way it’s written, it sounds like it’s up to them, not to Simone Biles. Pretty paternal. I hope she joins the Board of Directors of the US Gymnastics Association after she retires. It needs her wisdom.

  25. Darby says:

    I personally think she’s playing hardball with USA gymnastics. She’s repeatedly pushed for change and accountability for the horrors of abuse they have had to deal with. She’s making a stand and I’m here for it. She’s saying you can’t just force me out to perform when you aren’t willing to protect and care of us

  26. SarahLou says:

    Is it weird to say I’m proud of someone I don’t know? Way to respect yourself, Simone.

  27. GGRosey says:

    Wow! I just saw Simone performing. OMG my jaw dropped, a talent and skill I did not know was even humanly possible. If she needs a break just leave her be, the pressure must be nearly unbearable.