Simone Biles Says Her Bronze Olympic Medal 'Means More Than All of the Golds'
By Rachel McRady
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For Simone Biles, it's not about the score, it's about overcoming obstacles! The 24-year-old gymnast won the bronze medal on Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics in the balance beam final. The event marked Biles' final opportunity to compete at this year's games after she withdrew from four events due to mental health struggles that affected her ability to safely perform her routines.
"I feel like it's still kind of a whirlwind. I don't get to embrace it yet, but I'm just proud I could go out there and compete one more time before the Olympics was over and do a new beam dismount I haven't done since I was probably 12," she shared.
Biles now has a total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, including four gold medals.
"[This bronze] means more than all of the golds because I have pushed through so much the last five years and the last week while I've even been here," Biles said. "It was very emotional, and I'm just proud of myself and all of these girls, as well."
It's been a challenging week for Biles, who pulled out of the women's team final last Tuesday after she got the "twisties," a mental block where gymnasts lose track of their position midair.
"I physically couldn't do it safely, and it's because I was getting so lost in the air," she explained. "Before team finals, the girls were terrified for me. And they've never really been scared whenever I do something, but they were really nervous."
Biles, who has brought the conversation about mental health to the forefront of the Olympic games, said it was frustrating to see how some members of the public responded to her decision.
"It wasn't an easy decision, so it hurt that people were like, 'Oh, she quit or she did this.' I've worked five years for that. Why would I quit?" she said. "I've been through so much over the past couple of years in the sport. I just don't quit. That's not what I do."
Biles wants the public to know that the Olympic competitors are more than just their sport.
"At the end of the day, we're not just athletes or entertainment, we're human, too," she said. "And we have real emotions and sometimes they don't realize we have things going on behind the scenes that affects us whenever we go out and compete."
Biles has been encouraged by the response she's received from other athletes competing at this year's games.
"After team final, we went to the Village, and I honestly expected to feel a little embarrassed," she admitted. "People were still coming up to me saying how much I meant and I've done for them in their world. And that was the craziest moment ever. In that moment, I was like, 'OK, there's more than gymnastics and medals.'"
Biles said she decided to try the balance beam because it didn't require midair twists, meaning there was "less risk" for her. As for whether she'll compete in future Olympics, the most decorated American gymnast of all time isn't ready to give an answer one way or the other.
"I definitely am going to take some time and let this Olympics sink in because I don't feel like I did that after 2016," she said. "So I'm going to let this sink in."