Olympics: American gymnastics superstar Simone Biles withdrew from the All-Around competition after this attempt, with mixed reports whether it was due to mental health or inj…
Olympics: American gymnastics superstar Simone Biles withdrew from the All-Around competition after this attempt, with mixed reports whether it was due to mental health or injury.
Simone Biles is not just a great gymnast — she is the greatest gymnast of all time.
At just 24 years old she has won every single all-round competition she’s been in since 2013 and has a record 25 world medals. That’s not even mentioning her swag of four Olympic gold medals.
However, she has been open about her mental health struggles, which were exacerbated when the covid pandemic pushed the Tokyo Olympic Games out by a year.
When her training was paused in March last year, Biles says she felt “all the emotions”.
“Angry, sad, upset, happy, annoyed,” she told Glamour. “I got to go through all of it by myself, without anybody telling me what to feel.”
She took time out to be with her boyfriend, NFL star Jonathan Owens.
Biles says she was depressed and considered dropping out of the Olympics. Then she finally agreed to see a therapist.
“One of the very first sessions, I didn’t talk at all,” Biles told Glamour. “I just wouldn’t say anything. I was like, ‘I’m not crazy. I don’t need to be here.’”
“I thought I could figure it out on my own, but that’s sometimes not the case. And that’s not something you should feel guilty or ashamed of,” she said. “Once I got over that fact, I actually enjoyed it and looked forward to going to therapy. It’s a safe space.”
“For a while, I saw a psychologist once every two weeks,” she told Health.com. “That helped me get in tune with myself so that I felt more comfortable and less anxious.”
For Biles it isn’t just coping with the global pressure of being perhaps the greatest athlete in the word but also unpacking and working through the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, which she says made her want to sleep all the time.
“I feel like in those instances, I was one of the luckier ones because I didn’t get it as bad as some of the other girls I knew,” she told People. “All those years, nobody ever told us what sexual abuse was. So we didn’t really feel like we were going through it or victims.”
“With gymnasts, when you get injured, your heal time is four to six weeks, but then with something so traumatic that happens like this?” said Biles. “There is no four to six weeks, so it’s hard for us to process that. There’s like no time limit or healing time for it, so you just take it day by day.”
In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing women and girls as a doctor at Michigan State University and for USA Gymnastics.
Biles has not suggested that her withdrawal from Tokyo is due to mental health issues but just a day ago she revealed the pressure she was feeling.
The Americans entered the Games as odds-on favourites, touted as perhaps the best gymnastics team in history.
Biles contributed to her team’s struggles with a slew of uncharacteristic errors. In the floor routine, she finished in second place after falling off the mat and going out of bounds following a tumbling pass. She finished seventh in balance beam after requiring extra steps to finish.
Then, Biles withdrew during the opening routine on vault with what USA Gymnastics called “a medical issue.”
The four-time gold medallist left the floor with a trainer and returned with a wrapped right leg minutes later.
The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) ended the United States women’s pursuit of a third straight team gymnastics gold medal.
The US team — made up of Biles, Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and Jordan Chiles — was never able to overcome an early Russian lead established after Biles bailed on performing an Amanar vault in mid-air.
Biles completed a Yurchenko 1 1/2 twist instead with a hard landing and withdrew before the uneven bars.