/ 29 July 2021

Simone Biles does it her way

As Australia recorded one of its most successful Olympic days ever with 3 gold medals in and on the water, international attention was on US gymnast Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from today’s individual all-round final to focus on her mental health. Going into Tuesday’s team event, she told journalists she was “having a little bit of the twisties“. It’s described as a kind of mental block that can see a gymnast lose their sense of space and dimension in the air, which happened to her during competition this week. Biles later said it’s coming from the pressure she’s under at these Tokyo Games. And it’s not an ‘everyone wants me to win’ thing… For context: Biles is the last survivor of a shocking era of sexual abuse at the top of US gymnastics, and she has said she’s at these Games to keep a focus on the issue. She’s also openly battled depression. And this week, it all came to a head, and she says she needed to step back. Whether she competes in 4 events next is an open question. There’s been an outpouring of support for her from other athletes and further afield. And US Gymnastics (the organisation she’s been fighting…) said “Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

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