It’s a known fact that Simone Biles can’t handle pressure. Biles admitted that to herself after she pulled out of Olympic competition for the United States women’s gymnastics team. She removed herself from team competition on July 27 after a shaky performance on the vaults during the first rotation. In the event, Biles attempted to do an Amanar, which is a triple somersault twist. It’s one of the most difficult performances being done by women on the vaults. But Biles fell one twist short and barely landed on her feet. Biles had the same problem when she tried doing her double twist somersault on the uneven bars during practice.
So without any warning, Biles walked off the floor and later announced she had removed herself from Olympic competition. That opened the door for Russia to win a gold medal for the first time in nearly three decades.
Before her mishap, Biles came to Tokyo as the biggest star of the Olympic Games. She was expected to bring home a record of six gold medals. But her dreams got shattered to pieces after losing the first event in the Olympic Games. Her shaky performance affected her confidence and made her frustrated. It bruised her ego. She wasn’t willing to accept defeat. She doesn’t like to lose. It forced her to drop out from Olympic competition.
At first, during a press conference, Biles had blamed her shaky performance on the atmosphere in Tokyo. Biles said when she came to Tokyo she was “feeling pretty good”. Yet, she was dealing with some issues that grew bigger and bigger by the day. But then Biles started feeling some kind of way about how everything was set up in Tokyo. She said she wasn’t comfortable about seeing any fans in the stands. She felt bad that her parents wouldn’t be able to watch her compete. Biles felt she had nobody to support her in Tokyo. She said that got under her skin. For the first time in her gymnastic career, she felt totally alone. She said it felt like she was carrying the whole world on her shoulder. Fans had expected her to be spectacular and even perfect. But she realized there would be no fans to cheer her on. Biles admitted she was not ready to deal with that type of situation or handle that type of pressure.
“It felt like I was still doing this for other people,” said Biles. “So that just breaks my heart because doing what I love has been taken away from me. I realize I was doing this just to please other people. When I first arrived here, I was looking forward to having some fun. But after looking around and I realized things would be different, I knew then I would be having no fun.”
Even though Biles sat in the stands to watch her teammates compete in Olympic competition, she never gave any hints that she wanted to return to Olympic Games. Biles had everyone in the dark wondering what she planned to do next.
“Today it’s like you know you don’t want to do something stupid and get hurt,” Biles said to group of reporters. “And you know it’s just not worth it. Especially when you have three amazing athletes that can step up to the plate and do it. It’s just not worth it.”
So instead of Biles making a return to the Olympic Games, she made up her mind to miss the next four gymnastic events. Biles was due to take part in all four of the women’s gymnastics finals. She was the leader of the team. For the team, she was expected to lead by example. But Biles didn’t care if her teammates needed her. Instead, Biles sat in the stands and watched her teammates battle against world competition. Without her leadership, Biles’ teammates ended up competing without her.
Despite her absence, her teammates won one gold medal, two silver medals and one bronze medal. They all stood together and gave each compliments about what they had done. Suni Lee became the fifth consecutive American to win an Olympic title. She won her first gold medal in the All-Around event. Lee also became the first Asian American to win a gold medal in that event. On Sunday, 24-year-old Mykayla Skinner took home a silver medal in the vault event. Her silver medal for a perfect gift after Skinner announced her retirement.
After the celebration of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, that’s when Simone Biles announced to the world that she had developed a case of “ the twisties” which means “a loss of air awareness that can have catastrophic consequences on a gymnast’s performance. It’s a medical condition where a gymnast’s mind and body are not in sync. The condition could be dangerous to an athlete’s mental health and physical safety.
After further evaluation, Biles was ruled unfit to compete in the individual all-around event. Biles was evaluated to see if she could take part in the individual apparatus. And then it was later determined Biles would be able to compete in the balance beam event. In a strange twist, Biles is the reigning United States champion on the balance beam. She won a bronze medal in the event back in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. On Tuesday, August 3, Biles returned to action and competed on the balance beam for the United States.
In the final days of these Olympic Games, as a reporter, I have drawn my own conclusion about the actions of Simone Biles. First of all, Biles knew about the situation in Tokyo before she jumped on the plane. She knew things would be different in Japan. She knew Tokyo would have no fans before the Olympic Games began. But Biles ignored the situation until it hit her in the face. And once that happened, Biles didn’t have the desire to compete in the Olympic Games. During that moment, Biles wanted to quit the team and that’s exactly what she did. Biles pulled out of team competition. She never gave it a second thought. She tossed away what most athletes fight most in their lives. After a few days of less than perfect performances, Biles made the decision to quit the team and sit in the stands. Biles said the pressure of living up to people’s expectations got too much for her.
First of all, pressure is a privilege. Without pressure there is no sports. If you are aiming to be at the top of your game, you better start learning how to deal with pressure and how to deal with these moments. Every athlete has dealt with pressure. Especially in baseball. The bases are loaded and there two outs in the 9th inning. Or in basketball, your team is facing a two-point deficit with five seconds left in the game. In pro football, I have seen Aaron Rodgers throw Hail Mary touchdown passes with less than five seconds left in regulation. In sports, there’s always going to be pressure. As an athlete, you have to find a way to deal with it.
And in Simone Biles’ case, the 24-year-old Olympic champion better figure out a way to deal with pressure. After watching her Olympic performance in Tokyo, Simone Biles should have been smart enough to just stay home.