Simone Biles says she realizes she’s “more than my accomplishments”

Superstar gymnast Simone Biles says she had a realization after unexpectedly withdrawing from competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games: “I’m more than my accomplishments.” 

After removing herself from both the team and individual all-around competitions at the Games to focus on her mental health, Biles received a wave of support from the athletic community, including her teammates, Team USA, mental health advocate Michael Phelps and one of her sponsors, Athleta. The reigning all-around champion sent an emotional thank you tweet to her supporters overnight.  

“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,” Biles wrote

After failing to properly complete her intended vault during the team competition, Biles huddled with her trainer and exited the competition floor with the team doctor. Teammate Jordan Chiles replaced Biles and Team USA was forced to finish without her, ultimately earning a silver medal and ending their bid for a third straight Olympic title.

The 24-year-old said that, while competing on vault, she experienced a state of disorientation gymnasts have dubbed “the twisties.” The 24-year-old said she became concerned that she would injure herself because her mind was disconnected from her body. 

“I was just like, shaking,” she said during a news conference, referring to the waiting period ahead of the team competition. “I’ve never felt like this going into competition before.” 

After a tough qualifying round, Biles had posted on social media that she felt the “weight of the world” on her shoulders. 

Gymnastics - Artistic - Olympics: Day 5
Simone Biles blows a kiss while watching the Men’s All-Around Final on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. / Getty Images

“I think, just as a whole, not having an audience, there are a lot of different variables going into it. It’s been a long week, it’s been a long Olympic process, it’s been a long year,” Biles told reporters. “So, just a lot of different variables and I think we’re just a little bit too stressed out, but we should be out here having fun and sometimes that’s not the case.”

Biles, who is still eligible to compete in individual competitions next week, cited tennis star Naomi Osaka for inspiring her to focus on her mental well-being. In May, Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open, citing anxiety and depression, sparking a renewed conversation on mental health in sports. 

“Put mental health first because if you don’t, you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to,” Biles said. “So, it’s okay sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and a person that you really are, rather than just battle through it.”