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“It was too much”.
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 from New York magazine posted on 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 for 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.
He later explained that he 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 recounted that 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 all the training I had.”
The 19th time world champion described her attempt to compete affected by the “twisties” as “Basically life or death” and added that after his presentation on the balance beam he said: “It is a miracle that he landed on his 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.”, lament. “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 yet to decide whether to compete again.
“This will probably be something that 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 ”.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.