Simone Biles is the best gymnast in the world currently – and this isn’t just a bias. Right now, Simone Biles holds the highest record for world championship medals, with 19 golds, and a total of 25 medals. In the two Olympic games that she has participated in, Biles managed to earn a total of 7 medals with 4 golds, 1 silver, and 2 bronze. Looking away from the materialistic perspective of determining her value as a gymnast, Simone Biles is iconic in many other aspects; her medals are just one piece to the whole puzzle.
Simone Biles posing with her 5 Olympic Gold Medals for Team USA
In the Tokyo 2020 games this past year, fans of gymnastics were quite shocked to hear about Biles’ withdrawal from the individual all-around competition. This happened right after Biles had a major stumble in her vault routine, later arriving with her right leg wrapped up. When asked about her injury, Biles made it clear that it wasn’t the physical injury itself that was the cause for her withdrawal, it was her mental health.
Simone Biles has always been an icon within a field that hasn’t always been transparent with its fans. The Gymnastics team has a history with its coaches not caring much for the athletes, with ex-coach John Geddert having been arrested for more than 20 counts of sexual assault and human trafficking. Even with his arrest, women athletes have been taken advantage of in the past and even now, whether it be mentally or physically pushing them to the brink or continue their abusive and toxic behaviors toward their athletes. This was also shown by Kerri Strug’s performance in the 1996 Olympics game, where her coaches continued pushing her into doing a one leg vault, despite having seriously injured one of her legs. This injury, and the added pressure from the coaches to win the gold on her broken leg, caused her to perform the vault and as a result, never be able to continue her gymnastics career ever again.
Kerri Strug winning a Gold medal for her last ever performance due to injury
When considering the toxic atmosphere of the gymnastics sport in the Olympics, what Simone Biles has done is a monumental and inspiring move to young gymnasts everywhere. Prioritizing yourself is a novel concept that is foreign to Olympic Gymnastics, and Simone Biles is a veteran within this sport. Her actions, such as prioritizing herself and her mental health, sets an example for young gymnasts everywhere, and it truly speaks for the changes that she wants to forever cement within the sport. If not for her continuous actions that continue to throw off the general populace, the changes within the gymnastic world would go right back to the way things used to be, and there would have been absolutely no point for the investigations and the change in abusive behavior the gymnastics team went through.
Simone Biles’ injury could have been a major game-changer for her career, with many gymnasts proclaiming that if it hadn’t been Simone Biles herself that had been taken this injury, she might never have been able to pay the sport again. Many also claim seeing uneasiness clouding Biles before she performed her vault.
Simone Biles is a true inspiration to go against the pressure of the Olympics and her coaches, and to do what was best for her. She is setting a precedent that will end up benefitting all future gymnasts to come through.