She’s leading on and off the mat!
According to the Bleacher Report, Simone Biles has been named TIME Magazine’s 2021 Athlete of the Year.
The world’s most decorated gymnast, Simone Biles, is making strides again, recently being named 2021 Athlete of the Year by TIME. Biles had a whirlwind of a summer, withdrawing temporarily from the Olympics as a result of a severe case of the “twisties,” a phenomenon where gymnasts lose their sense of direction mid air. While many criticized her decision, Biles stood firm, advocating for mental health breaks for athletes.
She explained that there was a combination of factors ultimately leading to her decision to take a break, including shouldering the burden of being one of the last competing sexual assault survivors of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar just a month before Senate hearings about the role of the USA Gymnastics and Olympic Committee in the ongoing abuse.
“I definitely do think it had an effect. It’s a lot to put on one person. I feel like the guilt should be on them and should not be held over us. They should be feeling this [pain], not me,” Biles previously told reporters.
Biles sat out of the all-around, floor exercise, vault, and asymmetric bars final in Tokyo, coming back to take place in the balance beam finals and close out the Olympics, earning a Bronze medal and bringing her total to 32 Olympic and world medals. Despite the accomplishment, Biles said that returning was bigger than just winning for her.
“At that point, it was no longer about medaling, but about getting back out there. I wanted to compete at the Olympics again and have that experience that I came for. I didn’t really care about the outcome. On that beam, it was for me,” said Biles.
Team USA gymnast Sunisa Lee, who took home gold in the all-around competition said what Biles did was revolutionary for her fellow teammates and she felt a duty to step up when Biles announced her break.
“We all knew we had to continue not without her, but for her. What Simone did changed the way we view our well-being, 100 percent. It showed us that we are more than the sport, that we are human beings who also can have days that are hard. It really humanized us,” Lee said.
This past September, 24-year-old Biles was named as one of TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2021, tennis icon Serena Williams praising Biles for her efforts to shine a light on mental health.
“What she embodies truly reflects the endless potential of Black women. I wish I had her to look up to when I was younger and trying to realize my dreams…Simone’s greatest work, however, is what’s being done outside of the gym. She is using her mature voice and platform to share her personal journey of self-love, respect and acceptance - Simone is wise beyond her years. By living her truth so loudly and by championing mental health, she is setting new standards of beauty, strength and resilience, breaking down today’s image-obsessed stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same,” said Williams.
Now Biles has been named the 2021 Athlete of the Year by TIME, speaking candidly in her feature story about the pressures of this year, her influence as an athlete and how she has no regrets for how she handled things. Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick praised Biles for using her influence for good and sparking a continued conversation about mental health in sports.
“Simone Biles has used her remarkable position as the world’s greatest gymnast ever to inspire a long overdue global conversation on mental health. Her influence extends far beyond the realm of sports and shows us that another world - a better world - is possible when we speak our truths with integrity and authenticity,” Kaepernick said.
Congratulations Simone! Because of you, we can!
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