Simone Biles Says Everyone’s Support Made Her ‘Realize I’m More Than My Accomplishments and Gymnastics’


U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles has made her first comment on the public’s response to her decision to pull out of two Olympic events she qualified for this week: the all-around team event final (which Team USA won silver in) and individual all-around final, happening tonight, in order to focus on her mental health.

Biles’ decision has sparked a bigger conversation about what needs to be done to support athletes’ mental health; how dangerous a sport like gymnastics can be to do when your mental focus isn’t there (one mistake can literally cause paralysis); the pressure Olympians shoulder, especially when they are considered the face of U.S. Olympics like Biles has been portrayed in this Olympics; and how Biles, Naomi Osaka, and other elite athletes considered to be the best in their sport do not owe the public constant, perfect performances at the cost of their health. They should be seen as humans first, athletes second.

Biles was genuinely moved by the support she received: “The outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before. 🤍” she wrote on her Instagram.

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On her Instagram Story, Biles reposted several statements others shared in support of her.

She shared Justin Bieber’s statement, adding “ 🤎☝🏾” He wrote:

nobody will ever understand the pressures you face! I know we don’t know each other but I’m so proud of the decision to withdraw. It’s as simple as- what does it mean to gain the whole world but forfeit your soul.

Sometimes our no’s are more powerful than our yes’s. When what you normally love starts to steal your joy it’s important we take a step back to evaluate why.

People thought I was crazy for not finishing the purpose tour but it was the best thing I could have done for my mental health!! So proud of you @simonebiles

She shared former gymnast Nastia Liukin’s post, commenting “crying 🤍😭” She also commented on the IG itself, “I’m crying 🥺💗 my heart. thank you.” Liukin wrote to Biles:

Dear Simone,

Thank you.

Thank you for showing the depth of who you are beyond an athlete as a leader, role model, mental health warrior, and person.

Thank you for epitomizing what the next generation of role models should be.

Thank you for creating a safer space for current and future athletes to unequivocally be themselves.

Thank you for helping the world realize that prioritizing your physical and mental health is the mark of a true champion.

Thank you for illuminating that nobody is defined by the depth of their trophy case, and that you don’t owe anything to anyone but yourself and the pursuit of happiness.

Thank you for taking the sport of gymnastics to new heights as the unanimous GOAT. No one will be remembered for any single routine, competition, or medal. You, however, will undeniably be remembered by many for the compassion and bravery shown here in Tokyo. You came here as a gymnast, and you’re leaving as a hero.

xo NL

And she shared trainer Andrea Orris’s post, which pointed out that Biles is one of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s victims and has still competed through unimaginable mental and physical injuries. Nassar is currently in jail for sexual abuse.

Orris wrote:

It makes me so frustrated to see comments about @simonebiles not being mentally tough enough or quitting on her team.

We are talking about the same girl who was molested by her team “doctor” throughout her entire childhood and teen years, WON the World All-Around Championship title WHILE PASSING A KIDNEY STONE, put her body through an extra year of training through the pandemic, added so much difficulty to her routines that the judges literally do not know how to properly rate her skills because they are so ahead of her time, and countless more obstacles that we may not even know of. All of this while maintaining her responsibilities to her endorsement deals, the media, personal relationships, etc. And some people can still honestly say, “Simone Biles is soft. She is a quitter.” That girl has endured more trauma by the age of 24 than most people will ever go through in a lifetime.

For non-gymnasts who may not understand, the fact that she balked mid-air and accidentally did a 1.5 on her first vault instead of a 2.5 IS A BIG DEAL. It’s TERRIFYING. She could have been SEVERELY injured getting lost in the air like that. The fact she somehow landed on her feet shows her experience and is incredible. The margin for error on a skill like that is insanely low. A very small wrong move, and career-ending or even worse, life-threatening injuries can occur.

After her track record of all she’s pushed through – the fact that she took herself out of the competition on her own merit means that what ever she is dealing with internally has to be insurmountable and should be taken seriously. Despite what she’s able/choosing to articulate to the public in interviews, we will never know or fully understand her personal choices and struggles. She deserves respect. She deserves compassion. She does not deserve to have any judgement passed – number 1, because she’s a human. And number 2, after all she’s done for the sport. Plus all that she’s had to endure BECAUSE of this sport, and the joke of an organization who PROTECTED her predator instead of her and her teammates for years.

Regardless if Simone comes back for AA and EF or not, she is the #GOAT!!!

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