Simone Biles Fights Back Tears While Admitting She's "Still Scared to Do Gymnastics"

Months after withdrawing from multiple events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Simone Biles is sill struggling with the sport she loves. The G.O.A.T. reflected on where she stands in a tearful interview.

By Samantha Schnurr Oct 21, 2021 4:00 PMTags
Watch: Figure Skater Gracie Gold Applauds Simone Biles for Being "Brave"

After the 2020 Summer Olympics, Simone Biles is still trying to finding her balance. 

The 24-year-old athlete, one of the most decorated gymnasts of all time, was expected to be the talk of the delayed summer games in Tokyo. But after struggling with "the twisties"—a phenomenon in which a gymnast gets lost in the air—she withdrew from multiple competitions, ultimately winning bronze in the balance beam final and silver in the women's artistic team all-around, from which she withdrew after competing on the vault. Despite not participating in many of the highly anticipated events, Biles remained the topic of conversation, becoming a symbol of mental health awareness as she prioritized her well-being over the competition. 

Sitting with Today's Hoda Kotb on Thursday, Oct. 21, Biles confirmed she's "a lot better" now and getting the therapy she needs. Still, the Olympian—one of many gymnasts who have suffered abuse at the hands of now-imprisoned former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar—has not forgotten the immense weight she was carrying before everything unfolded at the Olympics. 

"Over the years, after suppressing so many emotions and putting up a front on a global scene, I think really all of that came to light," she told Kotb. "My body and my mind allowed me to suppress all of that stuff for so many years, for as long as it could take, and as soon as we stepped on to the Olympic scene, it just decided it couldn't do it anymore and it cracked and that's what happens and that's why taking care of your mental well-being and mental health is so important so that something like that doesn't happen."

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Although it's been hard, Biles found a silver lining in the ordeal. "I'm grateful that it wasn't somebody else and it was me because I know I'm strong enough and I can get back on my feet and I'm going to be ok with the right help," she said. "But it does kind of suck because I had worked really, really hard for that."

At one point in their interview, Kotb asked Biles if she thought "he," a reference to Nassar, had something to do with her struggle to perform. "In the moment, I tried to blame myself again, but I knew I couldn't put that blame on myself and once that happened, all the pieces were put together and I knew exactly what was going on, why it was happening," she said. "It sucked because again I'm on a global stage and everybody has to watch me go through that and they get to form their own opinion before I even get to voice and say what's going on."

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

She's since returned to her beloved sport with the Gold Over America tour, but it's still not the same for Biles. 

"To do something that I've done forever and just not be able to do it because of everything I've gone through is really crazy because I love this sport so much," she said, tearing up. "I don't think people understand the magnitude of what I go through, but for so many years to go through everything that I've gone through, put on a front—I'm proud of myself and I'm happy that I can be a leader for the survivors and bring courage to everybody speaking up, so I'm happy to be a voice for them.

"The twisting, once I got back will come back," she added, "but I'm still scared to do gymnastics."

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