The legacy that will follow Biles’ decision to step down from the team competition begins in part with the fact that she even chose to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In 2018, Biles wrote in an Instagram post that she was one of the survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. “I just feel like everything that happened [with the sex abuse scandal]”I had to go back to sport to be a voice to make change because I feel like if there wasn’t a survivor in sport, they would have just brushed him aside,” she said in an interview on today with Hoda Kotb. “I knew I had more to give to the sport and I felt like I had a goal and now I feel like I am and it’s a voice for the younger generation.”
It does this in two ways. First, as a mentor for younger teammates. There are tons of examples of this, from grooming her 15-year-old teammate Zoe Miller’s hair to staying to cheer on her teammates in the Olympic finals after she retired from the event. However, one example that shows true leadership skills is particularly her relationship with Jordan Chiles. Chiles rose quickly to become one of the top gymnasts for the USA. She finished second in the all-around at the 2017 US National Championships and third in a World Cup event a year later, but she still didn’t do that well in competitions from the summer. In an interview with ESPN, she shared how she felt like “nobody” and wondered why she even participated in the sport.
Biles stepped in and encouraged her to persevere, inviting Chiles to work out with her at her home gym in Texas. The advice and support of Biles and the sorority they developed went a long way towards making Chile’s luck in the sport – not to mention the fact that she made it to the 2020 Olympic team. “It means the world, especially the younger ones, who show the way,” said Biles in an interview with NBC Sports at the US Championships in 2021. “I’ve been here for so long so being a mentor meant everything to me.”
Today, after leaving the gymnastics team final, she made a clear statement to her young teammates that being a mentor and leader means first and foremost trust in one’s own environment. “Today it’s like, you know what, no, I don’t want to do anything stupid and get hurt,” she told him New York Times. “And it’s just not worth it, especially when you have three great athletes who can get to the top and do it.”
Next, and perhaps more generally, Biles sets an example of how to navigate a world of constant pressure to succeed. Stepping out of team competition and putting your mental and emotional wellbeing first is strength. Taking a step back and recognizing that she is not doing well and that her well-being is most important – no gold medal, no sponsorships – is powerful. She is aware of the impact the job brings and uses it to make long-term change in sport and beyond.
Like other athletes like Naomi Osaka, Michael Phelps, and Kevin Love, who is open about her mental health, Biles gives real freedom of choice to the idea that we can win in ways that don’t require a gold medal. In addition, with his withdrawal from the competition, Biles is also presenting a new template for what women’s sport can be if, instead of putting the weight of the world on some, we create a world in which healthy There is competition for everyone. Her legacy lives on here forever.
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