Simone Biles on Tokyo: ‘With the cards dealt, It went better than expected’

Simone Biles covers People
Simone Biles pulled out of four of the five event finals during this summer’s Tokyo Olympics because she got the “twisties.” With this move, Simone joined the ranks of athletes and celebrities who have spoken about their mental health journeys. She decided to take care of her health and she got a lot of backlash for it. Despite pulling out of most of the events, Simone was able to bring home a silver and a bronze medal. Simone is one of People Magazine’s People of the Year along with Dolly Parton and Sandra Oh. In her interview with People (which you can watch here), she said that she is proud of herself for speaking out even though she is disappointed she was unable to compete. Simone said that she was happy that her decision to take care of health helped others do the same. Below are a few highlights:

Obviously, to “train for five years and then get out there and have something like that happen” wasn’t easy. Accepting that, since, has “been a rollercoaster of emotions.”

Biles didn’t leave the Games empty-handed though: she won a silver in the team event and took bronze in her triumphant return to the balance beam individual final.

“Whenever I got home, I was really sad about it. But then on the flipside, I was like, ‘You know how many people I helped by speaking out and teaching them that they need to speak up for themselves?’ And just kind of going through that road together, and putting mental health at the forefront. So I knew that it was right,” Biles says. “And obviously, I’m still going to be sad because it didn’t go the way I wanted. But with the cards that I was dealt, it went better than expected.”

And prioritizing herself didn’t go unnoticed. As Biles spent the past few months performing in her Gold Across America gymnastics tour, fan interactions had changed. Biles says she used to get compliments on her Olympic medals, but now, it’s “thank you’s for elevating the mental wellness conversation.

“It really showed me a different side of myself and how people see me, not just an athlete but as a human, and that was really different for me.”

[From People]

I am so proud of Simone Biles. When she stepped back at the Olympics I knew she must have been struggling. I also loved it because, in a way, Simone was protesting people only seeing her as an athlete. I believe that by making this move, Simone gave many people the courage to advocate for themselves. The fact that it came on the heels of Naomi Osaka not doing press to protect her mental health and Meghan Markle discussing her suicidal ideation sent a strong message that Black women will no longer sacrifice their health for entertainment. I am happy that Simone feels good about her choice to take care of herself over performing and possibly getting injured. It is a message that everyone, particularly Black girls and women, should internalize. I am also glad that her choice is being validated by fans. It’s heart warming that people have been walking up to her thanking her for standing her ground. It’s too bad Simone didn’t get to compete or get the result that she expected but I am so happy that Simone put herself first.

I also liked learning that Simone wants to work with foster children. She was once in the foster system and this work is important to her. Simone is adding her voice to the conversation around mental health fitness. Hopefully the more high profile people who open up about their mental health journeys, the less the stigma there will be.



photos credit: Instar and

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5 Responses to “Simone Biles on Tokyo: ‘With the cards dealt, It went better than expected’”

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  1. CE says:

    I honestly feel like her being *so* visible and accepting *so* many endorsements is what added to this issue… I wish she would take an actual break and focus on her work

    • Gingerly says:

      You saying she should stick to the gym? I bet she views visibility and endorsements as part of her work, work she clearly chooses to do. Your comment comes off “she should know her place, she should know her limitations”. My take is she has nothing to prove to anyone but herself. And she’s figuring that out as she goes, just like all the rest of us. And kudos to her for being so open about her challenges and choices bc that’s the part that’s now inspiring people.

      • CE says:

        My comment came from someone who also like Simone has anxiety. When I put myself “out there” too much I end up putting wayyyyyy too much pressure on myself, which makes my work suffer. So I was actually speaking from a place of compassion

  2. Nanea says:

    Simone will always be known as one of the best in gymnastics.

    But what she also will be known for: making mental health struggles visible and hopefully being one of the people whose very public health struggles created a turning point for the better, thus making sure that mental health finally can be discussed as an integral *and* equal part of overall health, alongside physical health and fitness.

  3. Truthiness says:

    I irrationally want Simone to compete at another Olympics or Worlds simply because she is the best that ever was. Her happiness and sanity are far more important of course and she doesn’t owe anyone a god damn thing.