Gymnast Simone Biles is back on top
Gymnastics champion Simone Biles reclaims her throne after a two-year break and a shocking revelation
SHE’S the golden girl of American gymnastics. Her Olympic debut at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, saw her walk away with four gold medals – in the individual all-around, team all-around, vault and floor – and a bronze in the balance beam. At 19 Simone Biles had cemented her Olympic legacy – and made her mark in a sport that lacks racial diversity. The tumbling powerhouse was the one to watch, pundits said. But fans were surprised when she took a post-Olympic break, opting not to compete last year. Had she burnt out, they wondered?
Then in January this year Biles dropped a bombshell. “I am not afraid to tell my story anymore,” she said in a statement posted online. What she tweeted next explained her absence. “I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar.”
Nassar (55), a former USA Gymnastics team physician, sent the American gymnastic world into a spin when more than 140 women and girls accused him of sexually abusing them under the guise of medical treatment.
In February the disgraced doctor was sentenced to between 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse that spanned decades. Many of his victims are struggling to deal with the trauma, and fans had feared Simone’s career would take a tumble too.
Turns out they had nothing to worry about.
BILES is back with a bang. The 21-year-old recently became the first woman to win five national all-around titles at the US Gymnastics National Championships in over 50 years. The last athlete to achieve this feat was Clara Schroth-Lomady, who won six between 1945 and 1952.
But Biles didn’t just make history – she also brought her own brand of black girl magic. The gymnast made her triumphant return to the top in a teal leotard.
“I picked [the leotard] out in January. It’s for the survivors. I stand with all of them,” the gymnast told USA Today.
Biles’ USA teammate, McKayla Maroney (22), has filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics alleging officials paid her to sign a confidential financial settlement to remain silent on the abuse she suffered at Nassar’s hands.
Biles has made no secret about how her teammates inspire her. “After hearing the brave stories of my friends and other survivors, I know that this horrific experience does not define me,” she wrote in her January post. “I am much more than this. I am unique, smart, talented, motivated, and passionate. I have promised myself that my story will be much greater than this. I love this sport too much and I have never been a quitter. I won’t let one man, and the others that enabled him, to steal my love and joy.”
American gymnast Simone Biles made a statement when she returned to the sport in a teal leotard (LEFT) – the colour for survivors of sexual abuse.
Former USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar will serve between 40 and 175 years in jail for sexual abuse. During her break from competing, Simone took part in Dancing with the Stars USA. She also spent time with her family (LEFT) and her boyfriend (ABOVE LEFT), former University of Michigan gymnast Stacy Ervin.