Simone Biles: A Symbol of Strength at the Olympics

The 2020 Olympics just finished. Many impressive individuals dazzled the masses with the skills they have acquired over years of training. This article is about the one Olympian who chose to do things differently this year – the respectable Simone Biles. A four-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time all-round World Champion.

Her stepping down from the team games was an act of courage to maintain both her physical and mental wellbeing. 

The History

Simone Biles is a strong, remarkable young woman who has devastatingly faced a great deal of abuse. The Americal Olympics officials continue to ignore this abuse. 

Larry Nassar, a rapist-child pornographer assaulted Simone Biles. He was a longtime doctor for the Olympic gymnastics team. This gave him the opportunity to sexually assault hundreds of women and girls. He is a convicted sex offender. Simone Biles was unfortunately one of those women who had to endure this monstrosity. 

It’s horrible that many gymnasts experienced this horrible treatment – especially from someone supposedly there to treat them. In 2015, the chief executive of USA Gymnastics – Steve Penny – resigned after waiting for five weeks to report to law enforcement Larry Nassar after a survivor had come forward to report him. He instead reported it to the CEO Scott Blackmun for advice. They did nothing about it. Even after severing the relationship between Nassar and USA Gymnastics, Penny did not inform Michigan State where Nassar was still working at. Nassar continued to have his job until September 2016 when another woman came forward. It is not only blatantly disrespectful to the women who had to struggle to come forward, but also has put more women in danger

The American Olympic officials continue to deny that they had any legal duty to protect Simone. Why would any of these women have trust then? 

The Current Situation

Simone Biles continues to call out the USA Gymnastics and the USOC (U.S. Olympic Committee) and how they are not doing anything to help these gymnasts. It is distressing that this major organization will not take accountability for their actions. Simone Biles chose to shed light to the public about this issue. And that is the only reason why they continued to train in Karolyi Ranch – the place they were assaulted in

Two weeks ago the Justice Department’s inspector general issued a report about the case with Nassar in which Biles and many other gymnasts learnt an outrageous component that corrupt individuals hid the evidence that Nassar was a serial sex assualter and how Penny traded favors with FBI agent Jay Abbott to “bottom-drawer.”

Rachel Denhollander, activist, is a part of the reason for making Nassar’s abuse public knowledge. She and another survivor brough the allegations forward in a 2016 Indy Star article – making them the first ones to speak about his abuse. Denhollander remains to advocate for these gymnasts. She comments on the lack of reform within USA Gymnastics saying that “some of the most abusive coaches over the decades are still coaches at the elite level.” This elucidates that this is a systemic issue and even with so many women stepping forward, there is no change and no care. There is an ignorance that remains in the system and the “lack of proactivity demonstrates a lack of care.”

Biles had spoken in an interview that aired on TODAY and said “I just feel like everything that happened, I had to come back to the sport to be a voice, to have change happen. Because I feel like if there weren’t a remaining survivor in the sport, they would’ve just brushed it to the side.” Biles did not come back to solely compete in her beloved sport but to continue to spread awareness and make sure that this issue does not disappear. Her plan is to ensure that guardrails are included to guarantee that no future gymnast ever needs to experience what she and others faced

Her Statement

Biles has withdrawn from competing – citing mental health concerns. Detailed explorations have noted that it could be due to twisties – a problem for gymnasts. Gymnasts utilize “air sense” to ensure that they land on their feet after they perform, however, twisties impact the gymnast’s air sense. It is a state of dissociation that hinders athletes from completing a skill.  Biles had said that one needs to have “100 percent or 120 percent” to compete otherwise there can be serious injury and she wanted to avoid injury.But Biles has zero trust on this organization. The organization that continues to root for her, but will not take accountability for putting hundreds of women in danger.

Biles herself said “It’s like fighting all those demons coming in here” after the team competition. My heart goes out to Biles and all the survivors that continue to live with the trauma from this abuse. They are brave women who deserve to see a change in the system and organization. The FBI has declined to charge Abbott who lied on the report and he continues to enjoy his retirement with impunity. Blackmun lied to Congress and he and Penny disregarded child abuse reporting laws also have impunity. Nassar while in prison has avoided full financial penalties of his verdict. And additionally there is no investigation into the Karolyi Ranch. A place known for crimes against children

We need change now. It is imminent. 

Her Return

Simone Biles missed all of the individual finals except one – the balance beam. After an extra year of training and dealing with the organization that did not aid in preventing her abuse, she did this for herself, to challenge herself one more time. She performed for herself and procured a bronze medal – something she wasn’t expecting. She said herself “I wasn’t expecting to walk away with a medal,” Biles said. “I was going out there doing this for me.” She had the opportunity to be at the Olympics one more time and “it meant the world to her.”  Biles made history both on and off the mat. She inspired change and continues to do so. 

About The Author

Kashish Singh is a Psychology student at King’s College London. She has worked on multiple projects surrounding gender discrimination for the last 4 years and wants to continue to spread awareness within her community. Have you read about the vaccine gap in India written by Kashish?

Blog Photo Credit: BBC