Simone Biles Has Found Purpose in Being 'A Voice' for Abuse Survivors

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Simone Biles might be representing the US at the Tokyo Olympics, but she's not just returning for the gold medals -- she's driven by a new purpose. 

"I just feel like everything that happened, I had to come back to the sport to be a voice, to have change happen," the four-time Olympic gold medalist explained in an interview with Today's Hoda Kotb. "I feel like if there weren't a remaining survivor in the sport, they would've just brushed it to the side. But since I'm still here, and I have quite a social media presence and platform, they have to do something. So, I feel like coming back, gymnastics just wasn't the only purpose I was supposed to do."

In 2018, Biles was one of the hundreds of gymnasts who came forward to claim they were abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar. Biles' former Team USA teammates -- McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas -- also made accusations against Nassar and are all now retired from competition. The former doctor is currently serving a life sentence on charges of child pornography and sexual misconduct.

Biles has been an outspoken critic of USA Gymnastics, even calling for an independent investigation after being offered a $215 million settlement along with the other victims of Nassar -- divided between 517 athletes who have sued the organization -- as part of the organization's plan to exit bankruptcy.

Although Biles admitted that returning to the Olympics is, in part, to continue her iconic career, she explained that she also wants to ensure that other athletes don't go through the same trauma as she and her former teammates. "I don't think I knew it, either, but I feel like gymnastics wasn't the only thing I was supposed to come back for," she said.

Biles also joked about how her teammates have been teasing her about her age. If she can defend her all-around title from the 2016 Olympics, Biles would become the oldest American woman to win at 24 years old. But even as the oldest in the competition, Biles is still the athlete to beat

"For me, I think it's more stressful whenever I go out and compete because I'm trying to be better than I was at the last meet," she said. "So I'm trying to beat myself. And sometimes, you get caught up in that moment... I go out and I'm like, 'Can I do it again? Can I be this good? And can I repeat what I did last year, last time, last Olympics?' And I feel like that's what motivates me, is to strive to be better than I was before, because of all the doubters or even all the supporters. It's a thrill."

 

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