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Time magazine named 24-year-old, 4x Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles the 2021 Athlete of the Year.
Biles competed during the Tokyo Olympics this summer but took a break to focus on her mental health. She was widely criticized and celebrated when she skipped several events before returning to compete in the finals on the balance beam, winning a bronze medal at the Games.
“At that point, it was no longer about medaling, but about getting back out there,” Biles told Time. “I wanted to compete at the Olympics again and have that experience that I came for. I didn’t really care about the outcome. On that beam, it was for me.”
Biles says she has no regrets about taking time out during the summer games to focus on her mental health.
“I was torn because things weren’t going the way I wanted,” she said, adding, “But looking back, I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
After Biles stepped aside at the Tokoyo Olympics, teammate Suni Lee won the individual all-around gold medal for the U.S.
“We all knew we had to continue not without her, but for her,” Lee told Time. “What Simone did changed the way we view our well-being, 100 percent. It showed us that we are more than the sport, that we are human beings who also can have days that are hard. It really humanized us.”
For her Time profile, Biles opens up about being sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. In September, the superstar athlete took aim at the Justice Department during the Senate hearing into the FBI’s investigation into the Nassar case. She said the USA Gymnastics (USAG) “failed to do their jobs.”
“I definitely do think it had an effect,” she told Time of speaking publicly about the abuse. “It’s a lot to put on one person. I feel like the guilt should be on them and should not be held over us. They should be feeling this [pain], not me.”
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