Simone Biles Says She 'Should Have Quit' Gymnastics Before Tokyo: 'It Was Too Much'
Simone Biles has surmounted so much, and now she's reflecting on how — and why — she's pushed herself so hard.
In a new interview with New York Magazine, which comes just a month after Biles' tumultuous experience at the Tokyo Olympics, the athlete candidly says, "If you looked at everything I've gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team."
Tearing up, Biles continues, "I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. 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 for as long as my mind and my body would let me."
Back in 2018, Biles, now 24, publicly revealed that she was sexually abused by former doctor for USA Gymnastics (USAG) Nassar. She's since been candid about the effect the abuse has had on her mental health — especially amid her challenges in Tokyo, when Biles developed the "twisties," AKA a loss of air awareness that forced her to withdraw from most of her events.
"My perspective has never changed so quickly from wanting to be on a podium to wanting to be able to go home, by myself, without any crutches," recounted Biles to New York Magazine. She explained of the condition "was more than" just a bad day.
"Say up until you're 30 years old, you have your complete eyesight," Biles elaborated. "One morning, you wake up, you can't see shit, but people tell you to go on and do your daily job as if you still have your eyesight. You'd be lost, wouldn't you? That's the only thing I can relate it to. I have been doing gymnastics for 18 years. I woke up — lost it. How am I supposed to go on with my day?"
During the Games, Biles removed herself from four out of five event finals in Japan to recover from the disorienting condition which puts athletes at risk of injury when they land ("It's basically life or death," Biles said). At the time, she told fans she was choosing to prioritize her personal wellness.
Still, Biles ended the Olympics with a silver for women's artistic team all-around and a bronze for women's balance beam. Since then, she said in the interview, "There have been highs, there have been lows."
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"Sometimes it's like, yeah, I'm perfectly okay with it. Like, that's how it works. That's how it panned out," shad admitted. "And then other times I'll just start bawling in the house
Still, the gymnast said she wouldn't change anything about how the Games played out: "Everything happens for a reason. And I learned a lot about myself — courage, resilience, how to say no and speak up for yourself."