BRAVE Simone Biles has admitted she should have quit gymnastics before the Tokyo Olympics because the trauma of the sexual abuse she suffered was ‘too much’.
Biles, 24, was one of the hundreds of athletes disgraced doctor Larry Nassar abused in his position on the USA gymnastics team’s medical staff and running a clinic at Michigan State University.
Of the estimated 250 in total, the decorated gymnast was the only one to be part of Team USA at the rearranged Tokyo Games this summer.
But despite initially entering five events – with gold expected in all five – she withdrew from four after a series of major and uncharacteristic errors, or ‘twisties’ as it is known in the sport, with a mental block affecting her muscle memory when performing.
Biles started the team final but made a mistake on the vault and then stopped her involvement in the Olympics until returning to win bronze in the balance beam.
Speaking to New Yorker Magazine, Biles said: “If you looked at everything I’ve gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team.
“I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was too much.
“But I was not going to let him take something I’ve worked for since I was six years old. I wasn’t going to let him take that joy away from me.
“So I pushed past that for as long as my mind and my body would let me.
“The twisties is 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’.
“My perspective has never changed so quickly from wanting to be on a podium to wanting to be able to go home, by myself, without any crutches.”
Some accused Biles of ‘abandoning’ her team-mates and quitting because of her fumble – but she made it clear that was not the case.
Rather than it just being a ‘bad day’ at the office, the Ohio-born star compared her situation to going blind.
She added: “Say up until you’re 30 years old, you have your complete eyesight.
“One morning, you wake up, you can’t see s***, but people tell you to go on and do your daily job as if you still have your eyesight.
“You’d be lost, wouldn’t you?
“That’s the only thing I can relate it to. I have been doing gymnastics for 18 years. I woke up — lost it. How am I supposed to go on with my day?”
‘I LEARNED A LOT’
Biles is still processing what happened in Tokyo and her late withdrawal – but insists she does not have any regrets.
She continued: “Sometimes it’s like, yeah, I’m perfectly OK with it. Like, that’s how it works. That’s how it panned out.
“And then other times I’ll just start bawling in the house.’
“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.”
Biles revealed in January 2018 she had been attacked by Nassar with a courageous tweet.
He was sentenced to 175 years in prison that month after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting 125 girls and women between 1998 and 2015.
A month earlier he was given a 60-year sentence for possessing 37,000 images of child pornography.
On February 5 Nassar was sentenced to an additional 40 to 125 years in jail for a further three sex offences – a total of up to 360 years in jail.
We have been failed and we deserve answers
Simone Biles to Senate Judiciary Committee
Earlier this month, Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Nassar and the FBI’s investigation into the case.
The hearing was held to probe the FBI’s investigation into Nassar and its missteps.
Biles said she was ‘failed’ by the FBI, USA Gymnastics, and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
The athlete told Capitol Hill: “I sit before you today to raise my voice so that no little girl must endure what I, the athletes at this table and the countless others needlessly suffered under Nassar’s guise of medical treatment — which we continue to endure to today.
“We have been failed and we deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable.
“If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports.
“As the lone competitor in the recent Tokyo Games who was a survivor of this horror, I can assure you that the impacts of this man’s abuse are not ever over or forgotten.”
And in her New Yorker interview, Biles opened up about suffering from depression, her psychological therapy ahead of the Olympics and the long-term recovery time with no set end date, unlike a physical injury.
The Texas-based champ – who has started a 35-city gymnastics tour – concluded: “They were like, ‘Yes, you’re good enough to go and do your stuff, but you have to come back.’
“And I was like, ‘Nah, I’m good.’
“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.”