Simone Biles proved she’s the greatest of all time by winning her final Olympic medal
It’s been one heck of a week for Simone Biles. The world’s most decorated gymnast, at the top of her game, went to Tokyo for the Olympics and qualified for pretty much every final event. But after completing one round of the team final, she withdrew from that competition. And then she withdrew from the all-around, and several individual events. Through it all, Biles shared with fans and spectators that she was struggling with her mental health, and worried about injuring herself if she attempted to compete in the wrong headspace. On Tuesday, she returned for the final gymnastics event at the Olympics: the balance beam. And like the GOAT that she is, Biles won the bronze medal.
“I wasn’t expecting to walk away with the medal,” she said after competing. “I was just going out there doing this for me. To have one more opportunity to be at the Olympics meant the world to me.”
After bailing from her complicated vault during the team final, Biles explained in interviews and on social media that she was struggling with a mental block gymnasts call “the twisties,” which left her unable to comprehend how to do complex twists in midair.
“Things were not connecting and I don’t know what went wrong,” she told reporters last Tuesday. “People say it’s like stress related, but I honestly, I could not tell you because I felt fine. I think I’m still trying to process this a little bit.”
This morning, Biles performed a beam routine that was less complex than the one she did in qualifying events. She went forward with the competition after meeting with sports psychologists and team doctors daily, to ensure she was healthy and up for competing. She didn’t do the twists and flips from the complicated beam dismount that’s named after her. But her routine was solid, and she ended her Olympics on her own terms. This year, she’s taking home two medals: her bronze from the balance beam final, and the silver medal that Team USA won after she withdrew.
Biles now has 7 Olympic medals. But what people will remember from this year’s games is how she put her health before winning, and sparked a global conversation about the importance of caring for your mental health as well as your physical health. What’s most important is that she ended her Olympics (and perhaps her career) in competition, not on the sidelines. It’s what she wanted, and she did it for herself. And that’s what’s truly inspiring about Simone Biles.