The nationwide stay-at-home orders and the closure of non-essential businesses have had a significant impact on the sports world. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought the entire sports world to a standstill, causing unprecedented delays and shutdowns.
One of the most incredible changes so far is the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. This is impacting literally thousands of Olympic hopeful athletes who have trained their whole lives for this opportunity. One of those prospective Olympics is U.S. gymnast Simone Biles. She has yet to commit to competing in the rescheduled Olympic Games.
Simone Biles career overview
Biles was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1997. She first discovered her love of gymnastics on a daycare field trip to a gymnastics center. She mimicked the other gymnasts and caught the attention of the coach on-site who wrote a letter asking that she start participating in gymnastics. Biles began competing in 2007 at the age of 10.
She first rose to prominence at the junior elite level, winning world and U.S. titles in 2013 followed by a third straight world title in 2015. She became a household name after the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.
There she was the top performer from the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team nicknamed “The Final Five.” She won gold medals in the individual all-around, floor exercise, and vault while nabbing a bronze medal in the balance beam. She won her record-setting 25th World Championship medal in the fall of 2019.
Why rescheduling the Olympics is a setback for many Olympic athletes
The Olympic postponement isn’t a huge deal for every athlete. Take, for example, the USA Basketball squads. The majority of the players who would have filled out the men’s and women’s rosters will likely be able to play the following summer.
But not every athlete is so fortunate. For many sports — including gymnastics — the athletes tend to skew younger. Simone Biles is currently 23 years old. The average age of women gymnasts at the 2016 Rio Olympics was slightly below 20 years old. Biles will be 24 by the time the Tokyo Games actually take place.
That’s not to say Biles can’t compete next year. She’s certainly shown her will to persevere and win before. But she may have additional competition in making the squad.
For many athletes, the extra year will only serve as an obstacle toward achieving their Olympic dream. There’s a chance Biles could be in that camp — the extra year may not hurt her necessarily, but it definitely doesn’t help her chances.
Why Simone Biles hasn’t committed to competing in the rescheduled Olympics
According to FiveThirtyEight, Biles has yet to commit to the 2021 reschedule due to the mental stress associated with preparing. She also appears frustrated with USA Gymnastics and how they handled the abuse she and her fellow gymnasts faced from former physician Larry Nassar.
No one could blame Biles for not being ready to commit just yet. The average person has no idea what it’s like to prepare for the Olympics. Biles does, however.
She understands the sacrifice involved from a physical, mental, and emotional perspective. To have to put in the preparation only for a false start and then have to ready yourself to do it again for the next year is a lot to ask of anyone.
Whatever Biles decides, she certainly has nothing to prove. She’s already cemented her legacy as an Olympic performer. If she competes in 2021, it should be because it’s what she wants to do and not to prove anything to anyone else.