SPORTS. Simone Biles was one of the most followed figures in the Tokyo / EFE games
Four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles said she “should have resigned long before Tokyo” after withdrawing from five of her six finals at the Japan Olympics this summer.
“I should never have been part of another Olympic team” after “everything I’ve been through in the last seven years,” said the 24-year-old gymnast in an interview with The Cut of New York magazine published Monday.
Biles acknowledged in 2018 having been abused by the team’s doctor, Larry Nassar, who is now in prison with a life sentence.
“But I wasn’t going to let him take something I’ve worked for since I was 6 years old,” she said.
“I wasn’t going to let it take that joy away from me. So I put the past behind me as long as my mind and body allowed, ”Biles said.
At the recent Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed for a year by the COVID-19 pandemic, all the spotlight was on the talented American gymnast.
Biles was expected to win more gold, however he dropped out of the final five, saying he had to focus on his mental health.
She later explained that she had “twisties,” a dangerous mental block in which gymnasts lose orientation in midair.
And he decided to only compete on the balance beam, where he won bronze.
Biles had been seeing a therapist in the run-up to the Olympics and said anxiety washed over her when she arrived in Tokyo, in part due to coronavirus restrictions that prevented families and the public from attending.
“I got more and more nervous,” she explained. “I didn’t feel as confident as I should have been with so much training that I had.”
The 19th-time world champion described her attempt to compete affected by the twisties as “basically life and death” and added that after her performance on the balance beam she said: “It’s a miracle that she landed on her feet.”
In the interview, Biles also highlighted the added pressure on her due to her race.
“As a black woman, we just have to be better,” she lamented. “Because even when we break records and stuff, they almost play it down, like it’s normal.”
In early September, the prominent athlete testified before the United States Senate as a committee examined shortcomings in the FBI investigation into Nassar.
Now she is back in therapy and is touring the United States with other members of the national gymnastics team, but has not yet decided whether to compete again.
“This is probably going to be something I will overcome for 20 years,” says Biles.
“It doesn’t matter how much I try to forget it. It is a work in progress ”.