SHe could have booked a flight back to Texas and pulled the curtains or sneaked off to some resort on an island much farther away – you know, the kind of place where Melinda Gates huddles before the divorce petition hits the news.
But in the week since she retired from the Olympic gymnastics team final to protect her physical and mental health, a courageous decision made in the context of unhinged shots of people unable to attempt a cartwheel, the transcendent Simone Biles did not. it only stopped at the Tokyo Games. She strolled through the Ariake Gymnastics Center to cheer on her US teammates. She took to Instagram to discuss the “twists,” that out-of-body experience that suddenly made her feel so lost as she spun in midair and so scared. that he would not land firmly on his feet. “For anyone who says I’m quitting,” Biles wrote. “I didn’t quit.”
He sought out everyone as a woman whom no one could cow. And then, just when her many detractors thought she was lost forever, she pulled out.
On the final day of the Games’ artistic gymnastics program, Biles made a triumphant return in the individual balance beam final, winning bronze. Like his past routines, this was the usual combination of mesmerizing grace, mind-blowing strength, and mind-boggling complexity. The only twist was on the landing, where a coiled somersault was replaced by a more conservative double pike. This change meant that Biles’ routine would be assigned a lower degree of difficulty – a blow to a gymnast known for setting an incredibly high bar.
But this time, when she landed from the beam, she didn’t look scared or small. She looked like her old, smiling, boastful self again. That alone was worth celebrating.
“I didn’t expect to go away with a medal,” he said afterward. “He was just doing this for me, and whatever happens.”
In the end, her routine wasn’t the best ever – it wasn’t even considered her best on Tuesday. But that doesn’t make what he did any less impressive. Some gymnasts never recover from spins. Biles had to grapple with those disorienting feelings and the prospect of disappointing his fan base, and the outsized expectations that accompany his status as the GOAT of his sport. Y the unexpected death of an aunt. It would have been within his right to dismiss his singular balancing act as too heavy and retreat to his own island of shame. But by stepping back onto the beam and putting in one near-flawless last effort in the relentless glare of the Olympic floodlights, Biles not only proved himself strong enough to win bronze. She proved once again that she is made of a harder material.
Biles’ bronze is not only equivalent to his achievement in Rio. It awards her the same number of Olympic medals as Shannon Miller, the most decorated (now joint) American gymnast in the history of the Games. To hear Biles say it, you couldn’t achieve that rarefied distinction without first entering headspace. In addition to daily evaluations, she said she underwent counseling sessions twice a day. Meanwhile, he concentrated all his training on the beam; At the last minute, he made the switch to the somersault landing, “which I probably haven’t done since I was 12 because I’ve probably always twisted since I was 13,” he said.
As the comebacks progress, Biles at least belongs on the same well-worn reel of featured lights with Kerri Strug’s Golden Vault in 1996 – if only to illustrate how dramatically Biles has transformed gymnastics during his all-too-short rule. While a teenage Strug returned to competition with an ankle broken by her coaches to lead the Americans to victory in the all-around, 24-year-old Biles said, Fuck that mess.
She recalled that the last word on her health does not belong to USA Gymnastics, which, for some remote reason, continues to represent and earn millions even after she and hundreds of other gymnasts were abused by their best doctor. Larry Nassar. And Biles recalled that he does not work for the self-styled patriots who calls her selfish for doing the most basic personal care, something more athletes could do, by the way.
“Believe [mental health] You have to talk a lot more, especially with athletes, “he said after winning bronze. “At the end of the day, we are not just entertainment. We are human, and there are things behind the scenes that we are also trying to juggle and besides sports. “
But above all, Biles remembered that he owes nothing to anyone. Not your sponsors. It is not your country. And certainly not a celebrity-obsessed television network. She didn’t have to take the beam again to elevate her gender, empower survivors, or be a credit to her race. After years of putting her needs to the end, she was finally able to act for the fun of it, for the fun of it, for her own pure satisfaction. For those who will undoubtedly and ridiculously criticize this as the supreme act of law? At least you can say that you earned that right.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism