The color of Team USA women’s gymnast Simone Biles’ lone medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics wasn’t gold; it was bronze. Yet, given the circumstances, medaling on the balance beam is the most remarkable achievement of her career.
Biles came to the Olympics with the weight of the world on her shoulders. It tends to happen when you build a reputation as the greatest performer in the history of your sport. Ask Michael Phelps.
Things quickly became more complicated, as Biles give fans a window into her mental struggles. Yet, she managed to overcome, concluding her Olympic Games with a triumphant performance on the balance beam.
Simone Biles missed most of the gymnastics events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Biles’ performance early in the team competition was uncharacteristically shaky. Her decision to pull out of the team competition was every bit as shocking and prompted a good deal of backlash.
Eventually, Biles would detail her decision. After practically foreshadowing her mentality just one day ahead of the team final, Biles revealed she was struggling with mental health issues.
The team final was just the precursor. Biles would miss the all-around final and nearly every individual event. She once again took to Instagram with a series of training videos, explaining her “mind and body” were not in synch and openly showcasing her failures in the buildup to the Tokyo Olympics.
Through it all, Biles continued to support her teammates. She was exuberant when Sunisa Lee captured all-around gold. When Jade Carey struggled on the vault, Biles encouraged her to focus on her floor routine, per CNN. Carey went out and won gold.
Ultimately, Biles decided she would leave Tokyo with one more performance under her belt. It was the most meaningful performance of her career.
Biles won the bronze medal on the balance beam
Realistically, plenty of fans are likely to be unimpressed by Biles’ bronze medal, despite the tumultuous nature of her week. But make no mistake about it, this medal is one of the most remarkable achievements of her career.
It was far from guaranteed that Biles would compete in any of the events after pulling out of the team final. Her transparency on social media made it clear she could be putting herself in harm’s way if she tried to perform amid the challenges she faced.
Nevertheless, Biles would indeed compete on the balance beam. The fact she decided to perform was admirable enough. Medaling in the event was an incredible triumph.
“My mental and physical health is above all medals that I could ever win,” Biles said, via The Guardian. “So to be clear, to do beam, which I didn’t think I was going to be, just meant the world to be back out there. And I wasn’t expecting to walk away with the medal. I was just going out there doing this for me.”
Biles didn’t feel the need to compete to prove something to the American public or Olympic fans. She wanted to clear the hurdle to prove something to herself.
The fact she was one of the three best gymnasts on the balance beam after everything that has happened in the last two weeks is nothing shy of miraculous.
Biles leaves the Olympics having sent an important message
The bronze gave Biles seven Olympic medals, tying Shannon Miller for the most of any gymnast in Team USA history. That’s on top of the countless world championships Biles has already won.
In other words, Biles had absolutely nothing to prove to anyone in Tokyo. The message she sent about the importance of mental health, however, sets an important example and might have the ability to positively influence youths around the world.
Casual fans love to reserve the right to criticize in an area where they have little to no expertise. People are sure to make the asinine suggestion that a bronze medal is a disappointment for the greatest gymnast of all time.
Rather, Simone Biles’ balance beam routine is one of the most significant moments of her career and should leave a lasting impression long after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have concluded.