“I just felt like it would be a little bit better to take a backseat, work on my mindfulness,” Simone Biles said after pulling out of the women’s gymnastics team final https://t.co/k4hWJgno0V
— TIME (@TIME) July 28, 2021
“Physically, I feel good. I’m in shape,” she told Hoda Kotb exclusively on TODAY. “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.”
I think we should give Simone Biles a perfect 10 for having the courage to be honest about the real reasons that caused her to pull out of the Olympic gymnastic competition hosted this year in Tokyo.
Her withdrawal was not due to a medical condition, as initially reported. That was likely the handiwork of some public relations firm creating a spin that might cause fans to accept her decision.
It is hard to imagine entering a competition in which you have already been tagged GOAT—which has its own emoji. When you’re on the tippy top, there’s nowhere to go but down. The pressure must have been staggering. It literally knocked her off her feet in the floor routine and may have caused a downward spiral that sent her reeling.
There has always been a veil of shame surrounding mental health in our culture. People make up stories when they’re suffering from anxiety and depression because others will judge them.
We don’t really know what caused her to withdraw, but the manner in which she conducted herself is to be recognized as winning. Her bold decision is causing people to talk—in a good way.
It is high time we accepted suffering to be equally significant be it physical or emotional. Let’s be the spectators for that shift to occur.
If the greatest of all time can crack under pressure, we can too.
She looked in the face of her greatest fear and decided that her well-being was more important than proving herself to the entire world watching. She spoke candidly about her decision, even though she likely could have created some fake news. Medical condition, mental condition…either way, it was getting the best of her. She could have taken that wave all the way in, but she chose to set the record straight. She was Team USA’s secret weapon-turned-greatest cheerleader on the sidelines. She didn’t hide or feign injury, she just showed up; no apology, no explanation. That is character of pure gold.
Should she have ended her career on the highest note possible because she was afraid she couldn’t reproduce her previous feats of invincibility? Some will say yes. I think she is the GOAT for reasons that go far beyond the boundaries she stepped out of in her floor routine. She is taking this experience to the next level and has executed her best performance yet. Her leadership skills have proven themselves and we should get off of our couches and give her a standing ovation.
It’s impossible to calculate how many people her decision may touch.
The gymnastics world is about muscling through the pain and keeping your emotions to a bare minimum. “Your blisters are bleeding? Add another bandage!” It’s a performance that is both physically grueling and mentally taxing. I am sure this decision came as a result of enormous trepidation. It is likely the biggest one she’s ever made, and it potentially affected many others.
The gymnastics community isn’t famous for its “warm and fuzzies.” There has been drama and trauma over the years and she put herself in the thick of it, to protect others. In fact, she came to the Olympics this year to watch over the young gymnasts who refer to her as “Granny.”
She did what she needed to do. Perhaps we could accept that and just offer her a safe place to fall. I am in awe of how she has handled, what is likely, the toughest challenge she has ever faced in her 20-something years. This girl is no cupcake. She’s tough as nails. She’s a firecracker—tiny and fierce. She took charge of the fight against a predator who was being protected by this same community. She was fighting an uphill battle and added her name to a list of survivors. And when she did, the gloves came off and the real fight began.
It is my hope that one day she is most proud of the difference she has made in the world, rather than on the balance beam. I am more of a fan now than I was before, if that’s even possible. Perfection is overrated and we’re all perfectly imperfect.
There’s no shame in your game, Simone. Keep sharing that 14-K smile and being who you are…a sparkler.
We love you.