Simone Biles: Her Own Champion Advocate

Like millions of others, I was shocked when Simone Biles pulled out of the Olympic team finals. My first reaction was WAIT… WHAT?? How can she do that? She’s the GOAT! I’ve never seen a gymnast stop competing, especially during the Olympics—unless they were physically injured.

WOAH. STOP. TIME OUT.

Simone’s issues were mental, not physical. Her mental block was REAL. Just because you can’t see it on the outside, like a broken bone or a bleeding cut, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Simone had the fortitude to know she must speak up and take herself out of the competition. She wasn’t in the right headspace. It wasn’t something she could simply snap out of. She didn’t trust her mind and body to work together to keep herself safe. As heartbreaking it would be to drop out, as much as she was aware she’d get backlash for doing so—she knew she had to.

She said that morning during practice she had a bit of the “twisties.” It sounds like a cute term, but it’s far from cute. The twisties is a phenomenon that happens when suddenly a gymnast is no longer able to do a twisting skill she’s done thousands of times before. Her body isn’t cooperating and her brain loses track of where she is in the air. This could lead to a devastating or life-threatening injury.

Simone was her own best advocate.

I read an article that said something similar happened to Simone in 2013. She was 16, competing in the U.S. Classic. She fell off the uneven bars. She missed all of her connections on the balance beam. She hurt her ankle during a floor routine. Before she could go through with her vault routine, her coach pulled her out of the competition.

This time it was Simone pulling herself out. She had the experience and awareness to know when to set boundaries to keep herself safe.

This type of self-awareness applies to all of us. It’s important to know when to ask for help, to advocate for ourselves. This could be if someone is depressed, experiencing high anxiety or panic attacks, or has thoughts of hurting themselves.

It’s not easy to open up—especially if it’s a problem with mental health. I know. It’s downright HARD. It took me twenty years to admit I had anxiety and panic attacks. I never wanted to talk about it, in fear of people thinking I was “crazy,” that I could just stop it, or that there was nothing “really” wrong with me.

Stigma is powerful.

I respect Simone for knowing when enough was enough. And by her doing so, it further opens the conversation of mental wellness and normalizing mental health conditions as equally important as physical ones.

Simone is the Greatest of All Time. She is a CHAMPION.

In more ways than one.

10 thoughts on “Simone Biles: Her Own Champion Advocate

  1. Totally agree. She stood her ground, not allowing the critics to sway her and her decision to withdraw. Was I disappointed when she did? Well….yeah at first! I love to watch her compete! Who doesn’t? But she could have seriously hurt herself. Her health, both mental and physical is way more important than a medal!

    With that said….I would be lying if I said I couldn’t wait to watch her in the beam event tonight! GO TEAM BILES!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The thing about that situation was that some viewed Biles as a quitter, not acting in the best interests of her team. But in reality, pulling out when she had the twisties was in her team’s best interests (not to mention her own).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am the same age as Simone, my grandmother just doesn’t understand mental health. She shrugs her shoulders and says she should just get over it. One of the many reasons I never discuss my personal problems, I found your site because of the dp and dr article you wrote. Some of the older generations think we’re being lazy or we should just push through it, I can’t imagine what kind of pressure she was under. I think the issue is that if people can’t see it with their eyes then it doesn’t exist. It makes me said my grandmother will never understand that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. What you say is so true. It is sad. But with older generations, they grew up not hearing about mental health/illness, not believing it’s a real illness that needs treatment. It used to be a taboo subject. They don’t understand that someone can’t simply ‘get over it.’ My dad has a hard time understanding mental health. But my mom, who suffered from severe depression, totally gets it. I’m so glad mental health is now being openly talked about. The stigma will weaken with future generations hearing about it and understanding it. Thank you for reading my NAMI article and for reaching out. Take care!🌼

      Like

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