The following article includes allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
When US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles went to compete at Tokyo’s 2021 games back in July, she was met with a series of struggles. Although Biles still managed to garner gold and silver medals in this year’s competition, her decision to remove herself from the games was met with criticism online. According to an interview Biles did with TODAY in August, the gymnast explained how she struggled with “the twisties” and not being emotionally ready to perform.
“My body and my mind just said no,” she said. “Even I didn’t know what I was going through it, until it just happened … Train five years and it doesn’t go the way you wanted. But I know that I helped a lot of people and athletes speak out about mental health and saying no.” However, in a newly published interview, Biles opened up more about the stressors that led to her stepping away from the event. Here’s what you should know about why Simone Biles feels she should have quit gymnastics long before the Olympics.
Simone Biles struggled with the lasting impact of Larry Nassar’s abuse
During a new cover story with New York Magazine, gymnast Simone Biles speaks in-depth about what led to her decision to leave the Tokyo Olympics this summer and why she feels she should have actually done so sooner. “I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years,” she said. “It was too much. But I was not going to let him take something I’ve worked for since I was 6 years old. I wasn’t going to let him take that joy away from me. So I pushed past that as long as my mind and my body would let me.”
“I just want a doctor to tell me when I’ll be over this… You get surgery, it’s fixed. Why can’t someone just tell me in six months it’ll be over? Like, hello, where are the double-A batteries? Can we just stick them back in? Can we go?” she continued. “This will probably be something I work through for 20 years. No matter how much I try to forget. It’s a work in progress.”
Simone Biles testified against US Gymnastics
In addition to feeling the lasting emotional toll, Simone Biles recently testified in the Senate against US Gymnastics and Larry Nassar about the former gymnastics team doctor’s sexual abuse case, which first came to light in 2018, according to Vox.
“As the lone competitor in the recent Tokyo Games who was a survivor of this horror, I can assure you the impacts of this man’s abuse are not ever over or forgotten,” Biles said in her Senate testimony. “The announcement in the Spring of 2020 that the Tokyo Games were to be postponed for a year meant I would be going to the gym, to training, to therapy, living daily among the reminders of this story for another 365 days.”
After a day of speaking in trial, Biles shared more about the effects of it during her New York Magazine profile. “Before we entered the room, I was in the back literally bawling my eyes out. And then, of course, you have to pull yourself together and go out there, be strong for just that moment,” she said.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).