Simone Biles, the people's champion of gymnastics, gracefully bowed out of the competition after an unsteady start to team USA's performance, following a misstep in one rotation of the famed Amanar vault that could have ended in injury or worse.
Unable to complete the full rotation, after getting lost midair, Biles thankfully and safely stuck her landing. Gymnast have a name for the phenomenon of getting lost whilst flipping called "Twisties", a word for a mental block in which gymnasts lose their spatial awareness in the middle of complex skills. It is a well-known, terrifying and dangerous sensation for gymnasts according to sources at the Guardian.
Biles withdrew from the competition shortly after. Biles’ gymnastics coach told NBC that "Physically she is fine. But she is done for the night." She swiftly told her teammates that they would be fine and that "they'd trained their whole lives for this moment."
Various critics took to social media condemning the Olympian for seemingly "forsaking" America for "childish reasons". Many attacked her professionalism and diminished her reasoning from stepping out of the competition.
One in particular was Texas Deputy Attorney General, Aaron Reitz on Tuesday tweeted a video of the gymnast Kerri Strug, who competed with an injured ankle to help Team USA win gold in 1996, writing, "Contrast this with our selfish, childish national embarrassment, Simone Biles." His damning and rather negative rhetoric was vehemently met with disdain and judgment. Immediately all of Twitter took to Biles's defense and demanded an apology from Reitz for his flagrant and insensitive commentary. His post was quickly deleted and he issued an apology. Check out Reitz's apology as well as what those in agreement with him, such as Piers Morgan, had to say.
So, to sum up today’s big Simone Biles debate, snowflake Twitter is 100% adamant that walking out on teammates at work is brave, strong, inspiring and iconic - and anyone who does it should be celebrated as one of the world’s great heroes….— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 28, 2021
Good to know. 👇 pic.twitter.com/HclTrBbfY3
Check out what others in support of Biles had to say about her withdrawal from the competition.
From a gymnast friend regarding Simone Biles 🐐❤️ pic.twitter.com/4eWPIgi4yf— Brandon Marino (@TheBatMarino) July 27, 2021
Clearly, many aren’t accustomed to or in agreement with Black women prioritizing their health and wholeness.— Be A King (@BerniceKing) July 29, 2021
We’re often stereotyped as overly strong and overtly angry and aggressive.
But here we are, human and holistic, diverse and dynamic.
Our wellness matters.
I am more proud of @Simone_Biles than ever. She has given such a magnificent example of wisdom under pressure.— Rick Warren (@RickWarren) July 29, 2021
It’s sad when we have to tell people not to hurt each other. None of the folks who have an opinion can do a tenth of what they do. SHAME ON YOU! What’s wrong with us! This was Beautifully said. But it sad it has to said. Thank you Adam! pic.twitter.com/qNmhHDc9Ba— Leslie Jones 🦋 (@Lesdoggg) July 29, 2021
"We're human beings. Nobody is perfect. So yes, it is okay to not be okay."@MichaelPhelps reacts to the news of Simone Biles pulling out of the women's gymnastics team final. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/Jl2gmi7ORu— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 28, 2021
As a former gymnast myself, this is the best take on this. I don't think non-gymnasts appreciate just how difficult and dangerous these tricks are. It is so easy to make catastrophic (and potentially deadly) mistakes if you are in your own head. It happens to us all at some point— GoatGhost (@eastofwest) July 28, 2021
Wow that really puts it in perspective. I had no idea it was that dangerous (the changing vault).— Who dat bitch over there (@Whodatbitchove1) July 27, 2021
If she had a physical injury no one would say anything. But she basically has a mental injury & she should be aloud to treat it just as you would a physical one.
Can we add to that statement that Simone Biles doesn’t owe a damn thing to anyone else? #ISupportSimoneBiles— Kimberly (@kwalker1897) July 28, 2021
What some here are ignoring is that she quit FOR her team. She wasn't willing to risk their chance at a medal when she knew there was a very high risk she couldn't hold up her end. Instead of deciding she was too important to step back, she respected her world-class teammates.— Debbie Seltzer (@PragmatistProf) July 28, 2021
I stand with Simone Biles...a black woman having the agency to no longer participate in a system that jeopardizes her mental and/or physical health is a revolutionary act!! #SimoneBiles #notallheroswearcapes— Winston Duke (@Winston_Duke) July 28, 2021
Simone Biles has been fighting USA Gymnastics & the US Olympic Committee for years now, trying to get some shred of accountability for her own abuse & the abuse of 100's of other little girls at the hands of Larry Nassar--and y'all have the nerve to say SHE let her COUNTRY down?— Jacob Denhollander (@JJ_Denhollander) July 28, 2021
The "black women are strong" trope often leads to placing black women in various predicaments in which they are forced to perform regardless of their mental or physical state. We can see this in the backlash Biles receives after stepping away from the games. Expecting black women to run themselves ragged in spite of any personal pain or discomfort is reminiscent of being a mule or slave of sorts. Biles owes nothing to anyone, as she got to where she is off of her own talents and strengths; she has every right to remove herself on her own strength and accord as well.
Biles took to Twitter to share her appreciation for those who've been supportive of her journey throughout the 2021 Tokyo Olympics however short it may have been cut. And as if her fervor to remain champion carried on to her teammate Suni Lee brought home Gold in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's All Around in which she celebrated joyously with Biles back at their Tokyo suite.
the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before. 🤍— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) July 29, 2021
Simone Biles greeting Suni Lee is yet another wholesome clip filling our heart today! “The queen has arrived!” Biles says!— Inside Gymnastics (@InsideGym) July 29, 2021
❤️🤍💙#gymnastics #tokyo2020 #olympics
🎥 Simone Biles pic.twitter.com/kyv5qZtlqf
Even after bowing out of the earlier competition and receiving criticism, Biles made a graceful comeback to earn the Bronze medal in the Women's Balance Beam event. Having the weight of an entire country on your shoulders is too much to bare let alone carry as Simone Biles has done successfully for so long. It's important to extend grace for surely there are battles she faces in and outside of competition. What are your thought on this matter? We would love to know what you think so please leave a comment down below; possibly share words of support for this young super star.
Written by Precious Onukwuli