Simone Biles is showing strength through vulnerability,
In the final two episodes of her Facebook Watch series Simone vs. Herself, the decorated gymnast, 24, takes audiences inside the four weeks leading up to the Tokyo Olympics as well as what happened during the Summer Games when she dealt with the "twisties."
The two-part finale documents June's Olympic trials in St. Louis, where Biles showed signs of being "tired more mentally than physically," according to her coach Laurent Landi.
Struggles with "mental blocks," including fatigue from training for an extra year due to the postponement of the Olympics during the ongoing COVID pandemic, surfaced more heavily in Japan.
Most of the seventh and final episode of the series was filmed by Biles in her hotel room with multiple video diaries detailing her thoughts and emotions as she dealt with her mind and body feeling out of sync.
"I feel like I put too much pressure on myself in everything that's happening," she said on July 26, the day before the team final. "I just feel like mentally I'm struggling."
Confessing her frustration and feeling "like an idiot," Biles demonstrated to the camera, and herself, that she was able to execute parts of her routines by flipping on her hotel room bed. "I know how to do gymnastics, it's just frick," she admitted about the disorientation.
Back in Houston on July 27, the Biles family was watching the team final on a live feed as mother Nellie reacted to her daughter's failed vault. "Let's get these head things out of your head girl, your landings," the matriarch said while watching the screen.
Meanwhile, during the team final in Tokyo, Simone was telling her coach Cecile Canqueteau-Landi: "I just don't know what I'm going to do the rest of the meet that's my problem. I don't want to do something stupid." Moments after, they walked off the competition floor.
For the first time, audiences hear the phone call Biles made to her mother before officially withdrawing from the team final. "You can't do it honey, that's okay. They will do their best without you," Nellie advised over the phone.
Recalling her altered vault and being lost in the air, Biles said she "felt like a flying ragdoll," noting that "it's not a fun feeling when your body is so out of sync with your mind. It's not only scary, but it's dangerous."
The two-time Olympian continued, "You know how many times I wanted to wake up and it not be a reality? I was just like am I living in a nightmare right now? I thought it was a dream over and over and over again."
Ultimately, Biles and her teammates Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum earned silver behind the first-place finishers, the Russian Olympic Committee.
"People are like, 'Oh she had a bad turn, she quit,' but it's like no that's not it," Biles explained, sharing how she has previously competed with broken ribs, "shattered" toes and kidney stones. "I've been through sexual abuse, I came back to the sport. There are so many barriers that I've gotten past. And so to say I had a bad turn and quit ... if you look at all of those you can't say I'm a quitter. I'm a fighter. I feel like I had a lot of courage."
Growing emotional and tearing up, Biles said, "I gave the team the best chance at medaling. Five years and I just put myself first for once. I don't think they realize that. How do you work five years to go to a meet and tell your coach you can't finish? It doesn't happen every year. So I feel like that was very hard for me to relay to people."
Cameras also filmed a tearful FaceTime conversation that Nellie had with the Landis during which all three talked about the mental difficulties Biles was having and how the gymnast "freaked out."
The team final was the first of five withdrawals for Biles. "There goes my Olympics," she initially said, explaining that the "twisties" often take two weeks to evaluate. But Biles was determined to complete her "dream" after training for five years.
"The point was to go out there and finish with a good performance and that's what she did," coach Laurent said of Biles, who went on to win her second medal, a bronze in the individual balance beam final.
Reflecting on her decision to withdraw, Biles said during the finale episodes, "I'm not going to regret anything in 10 years when I can still walk, have kids, be there for my family. 'Wow, I was smart at 24. Look how much I grew.' "
"It might be age, it might be maturity, but I feel a little bit older in a sense now that there is more to life. I'm ready to be a girlfriend, I'm ready to be a daughter, I'm ready to be a friend, a sister," the star later shared.
"It's unfortunate because it took the Olympics for me to realize that but I'm so happy I did because I know I'm worth more than gold rather than if I went and won," she continued.
Seemingly referencing retirement, Biles also pointed out that her ending in Tokyo is more meaningful due to everything that transpired.
"If I were to walk away from the sport this moment, I've accomplished more than I ever dreamed of or ever could've imagined," she shared. "Courage, standing up for yourself, resilence, bravery, there's so much. I can't be mad at my career. Even if it didn't end how I wanted it, I can walk away from this sport and be completely content."
But a cliffhanger moment in the final interview of the series indicated a possible third Olympic run for Biles.
"Actually she texted me a couple of days ago ... 'Haha tell me why I'm thinking about 2024,' " her coach Cecile revealed. "I said, 'Unfinished business?' and she responded 'Maybe.' "