Every October we recognise and celebrate the efforts and achievements of Black people around the world in every field and sector. In this blog I’d like to shed light on American gymnast, Simone Biles.
I believe that Simone Biles has changed the world of competitive sport through the promotion of finding a balance between sporting achievement and nurturing your own mental health.
If you don’t already know, Simone Biles is the most decorated gymnast of all time. She boasts an impressive 7 Olympic and 25 World Championship medals – and she’s only 25.
But Simone Biles is so much more than medals.
As a sport, gymnastics is renowned for creating athletes who seem more like robots than human beings. With strict training regimes, rigorous diets, and little time for a life outside the gym if they wish to make it to the top. High level gymnasts are often subject to mentally tough or abusive coaches who push their athletes to perform in spite of injury or mental block. In 1996, Kerri Strug famously performed her second vault on a broken ankle.
Biles said enough is enough.
Simone Biles has changed the gymnastics world with her open attitude towards a balanced lifestyle. Using the influence of her 6.7 million Instagram followers to promote a healthy relationship with food, a life outside of the gym, and to speak out against injustices.
Biles’ Instagram bio reads:
Olympic Gold Medalist
margarita & mimosa lover
She breaks the archetype of a gymnast whose life is cantered only around training and competing. Instead, she promotes personal relationships, as well as a healthy relationship with both alcohol and junk food, which she has been doing since 2016 with her infamous “there’s no WE in PIZZA” tweet.
Biles is ahead of the curve when it comes to a healthy relationship with your sport. Not only does she promote a healthy relationship with people, food, and alcohol, but she is open about her mental health too. In the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, Biles received backlash for pulling out of the All-Around Olympic Final. However, Biles explained that she did so as she was suffering from a mental block and was afraid of injuring herself. For a gymnast as decorated as Biles, there is immense pressure to perform and to be the best. In the past, many gymnasts suffering from mental block would be told by coaches to perform anyway or would cave into the pressure to perform for the public. Biles’ decision set an example to other athletes that mental health is more important than performing or winning medals.
On top of being an advocate for a balanced lifestyle and for promoting the importance of mental wellness. Biles herself was caught up in the USA Gym Larry Nassar Sexual Abuse Scandal. Biles is a victim of Larry Nassar which she has been open about on her twitter alongside a tweet reading “me too”.
As a Black athlete, Biles is paving the way for the future generation of competitive sports people to have a healthy relationship with their sport. Her voice is powerful and is changing the competitive sporting world with the promotion of balance, mental health, and speaking out against injustice.
She’s is the Olympian who does it all, seen here on her instagram
And watch her in action, here are her RIO 2016 highlights at the Olympic Games where she gained a reputation for eating pizza after every event – I think I’d want to celebrate a gold medal winning performance with Domino’s too!