Simone Biles may not have had the Tokyo Olympics success she was hoping for but the US gymnast has stressed that withdrawing from some events was her “biggest win.”
Biles is currently tied as the most decorated gymnast of all time. With a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, she is renowned as one of the greatest to ever grace the sport.
Ahead of last year’s Games, Biles was widely predicted to add to her four Olympic golds. Yet, the US star struggled with “the twisties” –– a temporary loss of air balance awareness.
As a result, the 25-year-old pulled out of multiple events, which drew criticism from a number of people online, who accused the gymnast of quitting.
Remarkably, she returned to compete in the balance beam final and won a bronze medal to tie Shannon Miller for the most Olympic medals by an American female gymnast.
Biles says her focus was on herself
Speaking at the Simmons Leadership Conference, Biles reflected on the events in Tokyo last year and said she had to put herself first.
“Walking away from the Olympic Games was a win in itself. I know a lot of people thought I failed because they expected me to go out with five or six medals, but walking out of it was my biggest win.
“I had to put myself into consideration for one of the first times throughout my career. Most of the time, I’ve always put myself on the back burner, because I’ve always cared and thought about everybody else before myself.”
“I was like, ‘You know what? I have to do what’s best for me, what’s safe, and what’s healthy for me.'”
At the same time, Biles also stressed it would’ve been selfish for her to carry on in the team event final as it would have put the USA’s medal chances in danger.
“That would be so selfish of me to put the team’s medal contention in jeopardy, put myself in jeopardy.
“I had to be like, ‘Simone, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world, it’s just sports. If you walk away from this and you still are walking, that’s a win in your book.’”
“I had worked for five years and I didn’t want to let that dream go. I had to put myself first, listen to my mind and body, what my heart was telling me to do,” Biles recalled. “I had to put my pride aside and say, ‘Okay, this isn’t going to work.'”
Will Biles compete at Paris 2024?
At 25 years old, Biles is already considered old for a gymnast but has not ruled out competing at Paris 2024.
The US icon suggested she was “leaving the door open” for a return and texted coach Cecile Canquetea Landi that she’s “thinking about 2024.”
While there’s still a long way to go before Biles has to commit to her future, the 25–year-old has already achieved unprecedented things in her career and there may well be more yet to come.