Simone Biles Learned "How to Say No" at the Tokyo Olympics

Simone Biles Learned "How to Say No" at the Tokyo Olympics
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Simone Biles has offered more insight into her experience at last summer's Tokyo Olympics.

The world's most decorated gymnast opens up about withdrawing from the women's team final at the Tokyo Olympics in a candid cover interview with The Cut. She recalls feeling anxious and nervous once she got to Japan, without her usual support system, and had to deal with COVID testing and other pandemic measures during the competition.

Biles also reveals that her team began looking for solutions from the earliest event. She says, "I was not physically capable. Every avenue we tried, my body was like, Simone, chill. Sit down. We’re not doing it. And I’ve never experienced that."

The seven-time Olympic medalist also opens up about experiencing "twisties" during her vault performance at the women's team final, a mind-body disconnection that she describes as "so dangerous."

"'It’s basically life or death. It’s a miracle I landed on my feet. If that was any other person, they would have gone out on a stretcher. As soon as I landed that vault, I went and told my coach: ‘I cannot continue,'" she says.

Biles says that she's currently working through her complicated feelings about the Olympics in therapy, which she started at the beginning of the pandemic. "This will probably be something I work through for 20 years. No matter how much I try to forget. It’s a work in progress."

Despite the negative comments she received when she withdrew, including ones from trolls claiming that she shouldn't have "quit," Biles does not regret her decision.

"Everybody asks, 'If you could go back, would you?' No. I wouldn’t change anything because everything happens for a reason. And I learned a lot about myself — courage, resilience, how to say no and speak up for yourself," she says.

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