Simone Biles’s Controversial Stand Down From the Olympics

For many athletes, mental health is something that has to be taken into consideration. No matter the level of intensity, each individual has their own inner battles they are fighting. It is important to inform all athletes that it is okay to step away from the game and prioritize their own well-being. Simone Biles showed the whole world what that looks like, and inspired many young athletes to do the same at the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

The Tokyo Olympics changed the way we are able to look at gymnastics due to Simone Biles and her brave choice to take her own safety over the team’s gold medal. The executive decision was made by Simone during the Vault team finals when she had a scare during her event warmups. She had come out of her twist at the wrong time and had no idea where she was. Luckily, she landed on her feet and safely stum-bled out of it. Biles claimed she had a case of the “twisties” and it was too dangerous for her to proceed in the competition. The “twisties” is when your mind tells you to do one thing, and your body does another during a flip. Essentially, you do not have control over what your body is doing mid-flip, and it could end in the result of the gymnast landing very wrong. Because Biles performs some intense tricks, there is a serious chance of extreme injury if she is not in the right headspace.

Throughout the many years, it has been highly frowned upon for gymnasts to step down and stop when nothing is physically wrong. Mental blocks and exhaustion is very common in gymnastics, and it takes a toll on the gymnast’s body. As we know Biles changed the game and proved to young athletes that it is important to honor your mental health even under a lot of pressure.

As gymnastics have grown up there have been hardships and tough times, and it is inevitable to not have a mental block. “I have had a mental block before, it was a round-off on beam, but I overcame it by taking a step back, and going down to the low beam and doing drills, ” Reagan Bethard ’23 said. Meaning that she took some time off from them, cleared her head, and was able to have the courage to go back up and try it with a fresh mindset. This is exactly what Biles did except on a higher level. She identified that she was not in the right mindset, and took a step down to regroup. She then came back the next day and was able to compete in the individual finals for beam, earning a bronze medal.

As far as being brave enough to not compete while having a tremendous amount of pressure on you, it can be slightly controversial. The whole world was counting on Biles to help the team take home the gold.

“It was hard to see our best gymnast back out for part of the Olympics, ” Juliana Porco ’23 said. Biles’s overall decision to make a bold move and step down has changed more than the Olympic team results, it changed the way many young gymnasts respond to their own mental health.

This story is from the Oct. 2021 issue of The East Vision.