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Following her bronze medal win in Tuesday’s balance beam event, Simone Biles opened up about all the rumors that followed her decision to drop out of events at the 2020 games and revealed that her aunt had passed away while she was competing at the Tokyo Olympics.
During an IOC press event, the U.S. gymnast and gold medalist shared that she “was happy to be able to compete one more time,” but that she had felt “embarrassed” about her performance and the impact the twisties were having on her ability to compete during this year’s Olympic games.
“I kind of felt embarrassed with myself,” she said. “My problem was, why were my body and my mind [not] in sync? And that’s what I couldn’t wrap my head around. What happened? Was I tired? Where did the wires not connect?”
“I trained my whole life, I was physically ready, I was fine and then this happens,” Biles added. “Something that was so out of my control.”
The young athlete revealed in an Instagram story that since withdrawing from the individual all-around and the team final, she had been practicing for all four apparatus medal competitions. But as she was working to get her mental game on track so she could safely compete, Biles got the news that a close family member had died.
“At the end of the day, people don’t understand what we are going through,” Biles said. “Two days ago, I woke up and my aunt unexpectedly passed, and it wasn’t any easier being here at the Olympic Games.”
The gymnast, who was competing like all Olympic athletes this year with the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been open about her struggles during the Games by talking with the press, sharing her thoughts over social media and detailing her experiences with inquisitive fans. While that has lent itself to a flurry of support for the young Olympian inside and outside the Olympic village, it has also opened her up to a lot of criticism and even rumor-milling.
During the press conference, Biles admitted that during the past week and a half she had at one point become “numb,” but the speculation around her performance and her head game was also frustrating.
“There are a lot of different speculations thrown here and thrown there — if I am taking ADHD meds, which weren’t allowed in Japan,” she said. “Honestly, guys, I haven’t taken ADHD medicine since 2017, so we can throw that out there. I just think there are so many speculations that people don’t understand.”
“At the end of the day, we’re not just entertainment. We’re humans,” Biles said later. “My mental and physical health is above all the medals I could ever win.”
Biles was qualified to compete in all four apparatus events that took place from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3 but ultimately only competed in the balance beam event, something she wasn’t even sure she would be cleared to do.
“Every day I had to be medically evaluated by the doctors, and then I had two sessions with a sports psychologist, which kind of helped keep me more level-headed,” Biles explained. “I was cleared to do beam, which I honestly didn’t think I’d be cleared to do last night.”
The history-making gymnast, who now has a total of 32 Olympic and world medals, took to her Instagram to reflect on the end of her second Olympics run.
“Not at all how I imagined or dreamed my second Olympics would go but blessed to represent the USA,” she wrote. “I’ll forever cherish this unique Olympic experience. Thanks everyone for the endless love and support. I’m truly grateful.”
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