Opinion: Did Simone Biles fail the U.S.?

By: Cody Vannoy

Sportswriter

By far, the most talked about person in the whole Olympics was Simone Biles of the United States. Biles, considered by many to be the greatest women’s gymnast of all-time, decided to withdraw from the finals of the individual all-around competition as well as the vault, uneven bars and floor finals. Biles stated that she was dealing with a little bit of the “twisties.” The twisties is when a gymnast is no longer able to do a skill that they have done a thousand times. Since your body won’t cooperate, your brain loses track of where you are in the air. A gymnast won’t find out where they are until they hit the ground. The twisties is like the yips in baseball. A player forgets how to throw a baseball, even though they have been doing it their entire lives; however, when you get the twisties in gymnastics, you could severely get hurt. Biles would eventually pull herself from competition after she scored a 13.766 on beam in the team finals.

Simone Biles does her routine at Tokyo.
Photo Courtesy of the New York Post

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to,” Biles told reporters in Tokyo. “I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun.”

Clearly Biles was not herself. She was smart enough to realize that she was mentally unfit to perform at the Olympics. Biles has to be tougher than any gymnast on the planet. Not only does she have to live up to the expectations and pressure that the entire world puts on her, but she does skills that nobody else can physically do. She pushes her body to the limit every day. People could whine all day long and say she is not mentally tough, however, I believe she is incredibly tough for fighting her way back into competition and winning the bronze medal in the balance beam final.

The only question that still needs to be answered, is what will this do to her legacy? Do not get me wrong, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was not easy at all. There were none to very little fans or supporters in the stands, you must deal with COVID-19 protocols and not being able to have your family with you at the games. Not to mention, that if you are Biles, you must deal with the stress of the whole world expecting you to dominate in every event. I am not saying this is easy by any means, but, when you call yourself the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), that includes your mental game too. While this woman dominated the sport for years, when the toughest and most challenging sports event of her entire life arrived, she decided to not compete.

Whatever the answer may be, she will be remembered who put her mental health over a sport, and I cannot applaud her anymore for doing that. At the end of the day, sports are just a game. While it can sometimes be more than just a game, the players playing that game are not here for your entertainment. I will always encourage people that shed light on mental health topics. Biles brings up topics that should be discussed more often. Because of Biles, people around the world will feel more confident in telling people about their mental problems and not keeping them inside. So, thank you Simone Biles.

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