Simone Biles is the Greatest Of All Time in the world of athleticism. She is constantly breaking boundaries and pushing not just her own limits, but the limits of the entire sport of gymnastics. Not only does she execute the most difficult skills leagues better than her competitors, she also creates the most intimidating and impossible moves. It is amazing to even think that one person could influence and impact the most difficult sport in the world.
But in a featured story with the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Biles overcomes greater obstacles than the Yurchenko Double Pike Vault, the Biles I, or the Biles II. She continues to strive for perfection while surviving abuse, a family tragedy, and her own doubts.
Biles’ brother, Tevin Biles-Thomas had murder charges against him for the shooting deaths of three men at a 2018 New Year’s Eve party in Cleveland, Ohio. Biles-Thomas continued to maintain his innocence even while prosecutors were determined to find evidence against him.
Even so, the Biles family kept quiet to the public about the heartbreaking ordeal. Biles continued to compete in Indianapolis with her family at the competitions, waiting on the verdict of her brother. Biles-Thomas was found not guilty after the judge declared a lack of evidence against him.
Biles is also a survivor of Larry Nassar, a former doctor for the US Women’s National Gymnastics Team. Nassar’s sexual abuse which he labeled, “medical treatment” came to light in 2016, just before Biles’ first Olympics in Rio. More than 300 women accused the former physician of sexual assault. The USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee waited 15 weeks before contacting the FBI in an attempt to allow Nassar to retire quietly and cover up the allegations.
Since then, Biles has publicly spoken out against both organizations and has been continuously suing them. Biles has a strained relationship with USAG, which is why the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics was so hard for her.
“I felt kind of torn and broke,” she told Vogue, explaining that it was difficult to accept because she worked so hard and it also meant “another year of dealing with USAG.”
“That I don’t know if I can take,” she said.
The postponement has also raised doubts about her own performance. Biles has shared that while she continued to practice, she was anxious and worried about her future in the sport. She announced that the Tokyo Olympics would be her last Olympic game.
You would never guess any of these doubts were happening by watching her in the Olympic trials these last few weeks. She continues to push and compete against herself. She has no peers. While she has tried to speak out against judges underscoring her routines simply because other gymnasts could not perform them, she has come to accept she would rather compete against herself than reduce the complexity of her skills.
“There’s a defiance in everything that she does,” said journalist Jemele Hills. “And it’s not a petulant defiance; it’s realizing her worth. She’s come to realize she is the sport right now, and I think it’s that sense of empowerment that has only emboldened her.”