Beyond gold: Simone Biles as a heroic advocate for wellness

Simone Biles performs at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. (Photo sourced from Wikipedia)
Simone Biles performs at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. (Photo sourced from Wikipedia)

Simone Biles continues to show sports fans why she is one of the greatest gymnasts of all time. Biles has consistently been one of the best gymnasts in the world, and at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship in Belgium, she continued to showcase her dominance. 

Along with becoming the first woman ever to pull off a Yurchenko double pike at an international competition, Biles was able to secure five medals at the event, four of them being gold. She would win gold in the all-around, balance beam, floor exercise and team competition events. With the addition of these four medals, Biles would win 37 medals in both the World Championships and the Olympics and become the most decorated gymnast, male or female. 

While Biles’ dominance has contributed to her being an icon to many Americans, she has become a hero to me in a different way by tending to her mental health. 

In 2020, Biles would suffer from an illness known as “the twisties.” The twisties is defined as the sudden inability for a gymnast to make the required spins for a particular maneuver. This would affect Biles at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics where she would have to withdraw from the competition. After the Olympics, Biles would go on a break from gymnastics to focus on her mental well-being and would return this year at the World Championship event in Belgium.

This event caused me to see Biles in a different light. The first time I ever saw Simone Biles was watching the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio. At that time, I had only seen her as an American sports icon who helped bring gold medals home to the USA. After the events at the 2020 Olympics, Biles made her mental health a priority despite pressure from others to ignore it.

Mental health is one of the most important issues to me, and being able to see an athlete address it was very special. Oftentimes, athletes won’t say anything in regards to mental health, and on the outside they seem like perfect beings who lack normal struggles. Biles helped show that wasn’t true at all. 

Biles was one of the first athletes to openly talk about her mental well-being and help show that athletes are human, too. She was able to open up to many Americans and bring light to an issue that I believe many people might struggle with. 

While I may not be the biggest gymnastics fan, Simone Biles has become a hero to me. She was able to use her platform for an issue that is often overlooked in the sports world, and I thank her for that. 

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