Simone Biles Said Support in Her "Lowest Lows" Revealed a "Different Side of Gymnastics"
Women's artistic gymnastics came to a close in Tokyo on Aug. 3 with the last individual event final: balance beam. Simone Biles claimed bronze after choosing to withdraw from most of the Olympic competition due to a mental block called the "twisties," and her return was a truly phenomenal moment to witness — almost as phenomenal as her choice to prioritize her safety over medals. It continued a growing conversation about the lack of emphasis on athletes' mental health. Biles said during an appearance on Peacock's Olympic Highlights With Kevin Hart and Snoop Dogg that she wasn't anticipating the "outpouring love and support" she received (this support made her realize she's defined by more than her accomplishments and gymnastics).
Biles further stated on the Today show that she couldn't believe athletes in the Olympic Village were as accepting as they proved to be following her exit from the team competition. "After team final, we went to the [Olympic Village], and honestly I expected to feel a bit embarrassed, and [athletes] were coming up to me saying how much I meant to them; how much I had done for their world," she said. She also revealed once gymnastics concluded at the Games that Michael Phelps, who has been a proponent of championing mental health discussions in sports and beyond, reached out to her, as did Naomi Osaka, another athlete bringing these issues to the forefront this year.
To know that competitors and gymnasts specifically were in her corner cheering her on and asking if she needed anything "even in one of my lowest lows at the height of my career" meant so much, Biles told Snoop Dogg and Hart. "I never expected that in a million years because we're supposed to be rivals, but at the end of the day, we're all striving for the same thing and that's to get a medal at the Olympics, and it showed me a different side of gymnastics."
Despite what her future in the sport holds from here, Biles said to Snoop Dogg and Hart that she's feeling "pretty content" with how her Olympics went. "Obviously it's not what I expected, but the cards that I was dealt with I feel very comfortable," she said. "And I'm home, I'm in one piece, I have a good head on my shoulders, and I couldn't ask for anything more."
Watch the full interview on Peacock above.