Editorial

EDITORIAL: Biles Gave Up One for the Team

Simone Biles, “the Greatest Olympic Athlete of all Time” (GOAT), suddenly decided this week that enough was enough. After an unremarkable performance at the 2021Tokyo Olympics in the women’s team gymnastics event, she announced she would withdraw from the competition and later confirmed she would withdraw from the games completely.

The announcement shocked sports enthusiasts and her fans around the world who were already beginning to judge her performance. It was clear that the presence of mind and the ability to repeat the skills that earned her 30 Olympic and World Champion medals were missing. She knew it and we observed it. She was not her competitive self.

But then again, she was. Deep inside, Biles seemed to ask herself, “Who should win this time?” And, in her statement to her teammates, it was clear she knew the best thing to do was to step aside and let the team of eventual winners move forward. Jordan Chiles, Suni Lee and Grace McCallum — yes, let’s say their names — went on to win the silver medal for the U.S. With her, they may have won a gold medal for the U.S. once again, or maybe not. We’ll never know.

What we know, and can agree with Biles, is that this has been a very stressful year, unlike any we have ever seen. And for athletes who spend their lifetimes preparing for world competitions, especially the Olympics, the stress is unimaginable. In addition, Biles has been leading the charge as a spokesperson against sexual abuse, which she and other women athletes experienced from their coaches. Still, she isn’t convinced the Olympic committee is doing enough to address it.

We commend and celebrate Biles for knowing and accepting her limits. Everything she does provides lessons for us all. Be your best. Give your all. Support the team. Take care of your body. Listen to your mind. Be honest with yourself and others. And, celebrate the victories, even when they’re not yours.

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