Why Simone Biles Felt "Called" to Return to the Olympics

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Elyse Dupre
·3 min read
Why Simone Biles Felt "Called" to Return to the Olympics
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For Simone Biles, competing in the upcoming Summer Olympics is about more than a medal.

"It's stressful whenever I go out and compete," the 24-year-old gymnast told Hoda Kotb during an interview for Today, "because I'm trying to be better than I was at the last meet. So, I'm trying to beat myself. And sometimes, you get caught up in that moment, and it's just scary. Because I go out and I'm like, 'Can I do it again? Can I be this good? And can I repeat what I did last Olympics?' And I feel like that's what motivates me."

Biles won five medals (four gold and one bronze) when she competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Add them to her 25 World medals, and she's the most decorated U.S. women's gymnast in history. But she isn't done yet. Biles is set to compete in the Tokyo Games, which will be held July 23 to August 8 after being postponed for a year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"I knew I had more to give to the sport for myself and I felt like I had a purpose," she said when asked about her decision to come back. "And now, I feel like I do, and it's to be a voice for the younger generation. And I feel like I've done that. So, I feel like God just called me."

Every Time Simone Biles Was a Total Winner

This wasn't her only reason to return. According to Today, Biles wants to continue to fight for change within the sport following Larry Nassar's sexual abuse. In December 2017, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician was sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography and obstruction of justice offenses. He was then sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in January 2018 for seven counts of felony criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and 40 to 125 years in prison in February 2018 for three counts of felony criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.

Biles is one of hundreds of gymnasts to say she was abused by Nassar. Her former teammates, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas have, as well.

"I just feel like everything that happened, I had to come back to the sport to be a voice, to have change happen," Biles continued. "Because I feel like if there weren't a remaining survivor in the sport, they would have just brushed it to the side. But since I'm still here, and I have quite a social media presence and platform, they have to do something. So, I feel like, coming back, gymnastics just wasn't the only purpose that I was supposed to do."

Simone Biles
Simone Biles

According to The New York Times, hundreds of survivors have sued USA Gymnastics for failing to protect them from Nassar, and the sports organization offered a $215 million settlement in January 2020. Many athletes, including Raisman, criticized the proposed settlement.

"Honestly, it's offensive," she told Today in 2020. "It just shows they don't care. They're just trying to, you know, push it under the rug and hoping that people forget about it when they watch the Olympics this summer."

Per USA Today, USA Gymnastics is still hoping to reach a settlement, with USA Gymnastics CEO Li Li Leung saying in February, "We are putting pressure on every single organization and entity that is involved at the mediation table to try and bring closure."

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