Simone Arianne Biles (/smoon baalz/; born March 14, 1997) is an artistic gymnast from the United States. Biles is tied with Aliya Mustafina for the most Olympic medals won by a female artistic gymnast in the twenty-first century.
Biles earned individual gold medals in the all-around, vault, and floor; bronze on balancing beam; and gold as part of the United States team, dubbed the “Final Five,” at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. After dealing with “the twisties,” a temporary loss of air balance awareness, she earned bronze on the balancing beam and silver with the United States team at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Her perseverance, partial retreat, and attention to safety, mental health, and mental health were all lauded. She is also a five-time World all-around champion (2013–2015, 2018–2019), a five-time World floor exercise champion (2013–2015, 2018–2019), three-time World balance beam champion (2014–2015, 2019), two-time World vault champion (2018–2019), a seven-time United States national all-around champion (2013–2016, 2018–2019, 2021), and a member of the gold-medal-winning American teams at 2014, 2015, 2018, and 2019 World She’s also a three-time World silver medalist (on vault in 2013 and 2014, and uneven bars in 2018) and a three-time World bronze medalist (on vault in 2013 and 2014). (2015 on vault, 2013 and 2018 on balance beam).
The Olympics Have Been Extremely Stressful.’ Why Did Simone Biles Pull out Of the Gymnastics Team Competition?
Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time, was expected to lead Team USA to another Olympic gold medal in the team event. On July 27, however, Biles sat on the sidelines for a few minutes, in serious conversation with a trainer, before exiting the field of play.
She reappeared a few minutes later, evidently not in the mood to warm up for the following competition. She hugged her teammates, put on her warm-up jacket and pants, and then announced her withdrawal from the team competition to USA Gymnastics (USAG).
Biles withdrew due to a “medical issue,” according to USAG, and would be “examined daily to decide medical clearance for future contests.” Biles qualified for the all-around event on July 29 and the finals of all four apparatus events on August 1, 2, and 3. Because there were no fans present who would need to know what was going on, no announcement was made to the practically empty arena.
Team USA came close to beating the Russians without Biles—with one rotation to go, they were only 0.8 points down. However, without Biles’ more challenging and higher-scoring routines, as well as expensive mistakes, the US finished in second place, over 3.5 points behind.
Biles stated she was not hurt at a news conference after the competition, but she feared her weak vault would endanger the team’s hopes of winning a medal. “I felt that it would be better if I took a step back and worked on my awareness,” she explained. “I didn’t want to put the team’s gold chances in jeopardy because of my blunder,” Biles confessed that the pressures of participating in the Olympics, as well as the cumulative stress of competing in a pandemic Olympics after a year of lockdowns and limitations, may have finally taken their toll.
A team alternate tested positive for COVID-19 a few days after arriving in Tokyo, and another alternate was kept in isolation since she was a close contact. “Today was quite difficult,” she expressed her feelings. “The workout went well this morning; it was the 5.5-hour wait that had me shivering and barely sleeping. I’ve never felt this way before entering a competition. I tried to go out and have a good time, and after warming up in the back, I felt a little better, but as I got out here, I realized that my mind was gone. I need to delegate things to the females and concentrate on myself.”
It was a shocking change of events, as well as a surprising move on Biles’ part, given that the United States was widely regarded as the team to beat—largely because of her. Biles’ gravity-defying performances on floor, beam, and vault piqued the interest of both gymnastics and non-gymnastics fans, but she withdrew after the first rotation. Biles, the third and final member of the three-woman vaulting team, flew down the runway, launched herself into the air, and then appeared to lose her bearings, rotating her head sideways on the way down and only completing one and a half of the two and a half twists. She took a step forward on her landing and appeared dissatisfied with her vault, but she showed no symptoms of injury. Mentally, though, she was concerned about how her certain poor score would affect the team’s status because, in the three-up and three-count style, all scores count. “I felt like I took away a few of tenths from the squad, and they could have been higher in the standings,” she said.
Biles then exited the arena floor with the trainer after speaking with a trainer for several minutes, seeming more matter-of-fact than emotional. She reappeared a few minutes later, by which time the US team had gone on to uneven bars to warm up for the next rotation. Biles became a sideline cheerleader after hugging each of her teammates—Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, and Grace McCallum—and clapping her hands and bouncing up and down with every successful maneuver her teammates did.
Chiles, Lee, and McCallum stepped up in her absence. The US initially chose to feature Biles and McCallum in all four events, rotating the remaining two—Chiles on vault and floor, and Lee on bars and beam—due to the three up-three count paradigm. With Biles out of the picture, Chiles and Lee had to step up and fill in where they hadn’t planned to.
“There were a lot of emotions running through our heads,” Lee admitted. “Losing a teammate is difficult, especially at an Olympic Games. But I’m proud of all of us for dealing with so much, feeling anxious, and putting so much pressure on ourselves. But we ended up returning.”
McCallum jumped onto the uneven bars as soon as he heard Biles had withdrawn and executed a flawless routine. The United States was in the same group as the Russians, who finished ahead of the Americans in qualification, so the see-sawing point changes further increased the drama as the gymnasts from both countries rotated in each event. On the uneven bars, Chiles took over for Biles and put in another excellent performance, setting the stage for Lee, who has the most challenging routine of any gymnast in the competition. Lee performed her more difficult routine, which had a start value of 6.8, and nailed it virtually flawlessly, scoring a 15.4, which put the US in second place, 2.5 points behind the Russian team, thanks to McCallum and Chiles’ scores.
Team USA switched to the balance beam in the third rotation, with Chiles filling in for Biles. Chiles added a more difficult double pike dismount to eke out some extra points and stuck the landing, showing no traces of the nerves that marred her performance on beam during qualifiers. Chiles, who is known for her outgoing personality, pumped her arms and rejoiced with her colleagues as they closed the margin on gold to 0.8 points.
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