I love the Olympics. Possibly too much. I’ve lost sleep while staying up late to watch swimming, and the first thing I do every morning is check my phone for overnight updates on medal counts.
So, just like the rest of the country, it was heartbreaking to learn that Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles withdrew from the women’s team gymnastic final in Tokyo.
The immediate fear was injury. But we quickly learned that while she was in peak physical health, her mental health was “not there” leading her to not only make uncharacteristic mistakes in her routine, but also make the decision to let her teammates finish the event without her.
Immediately, criticism and praise started to roll in. Some called her a quitter. They said she let her country down.
But I can’t see any other option but to respect her decision. And here are 3 things we can learn from the “Greatest of All Time” taking a step back:
1. Even the greatest need help
I’m not sure if you’ve ever watched one of Simone’s routines, but that woman can literally fly through the air. She has multiple gymnastic moves named after her. And the difficulty of some of her routines is underscored so that others aren’t encouraged to attempt potentially dangerous moves.
And she still has a breaking point. Just like all of us.
You can be at the top of your game and still need medication.
You can have the adoration of millions and still need therapy.
And most importantly: we all need Jesus, regardless of how strong we think we are.
2. Life is a team sport
Part of Simone’s decision to withdraw from competition was based on her feelings that she was weakening her team’s score with her performance. When she decided to leave the floor, her teammates stepped up in her place. Jordan Chiles took Simone’s place for the uneven bars. And Simone Biles changed into her track suit and cheered loudly for her girls.
In an interview after the US women received silver in the team event, reporters were asking about the pressure that Simone put on the rest of the team with her decision. One of the women responded that everything should not be on Simone’s shoulders all the time–they’re a team!
It made me think about my own life. Who do I have who can step up in a moment’s notice if I just can’t keep going? Who is that in your life? And what steps can we take to make sure we have a support system in place the next time we reach a breaking point?
Life is a team sport. And every greatest athlete I know has a team of people behind them, ready to step in at a moment’s notice to help carry them forward.
3. Your legacy is more than your work
Will Simone be able to compete in other Olympic events? I’m not sure. Will she perform in future competitions on the world stage? No one can know that.
But what I do know is that this is just the beginning of her legacy.
Whether she goes on to compete again, or becomes a commentator, or becomes a mental health advocate like swimmer Michael Phelps has in his retirement, there is so much more life ahead of Simone Biles.
Will I be telling future generations about how I watched her land a backward triple-twisting double tucked salto? After googling what it’s called, yes. Yes, I will. But you best believe I’m also going to tell them about her brave decision at the Tokyo Olympics.
Because legacy means nothing if we don’t include the actual human behind the accolades.
You have so much to give outside of your job title. You are so much more than a parent or a spouse. You are building a legacy with every act of kindness, every showing of generosity, and every time you speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.
I’m never going to be able to do a backflip. I doubt I can even do a somersault anymore.
But I know there are things I can do every single day to change the world.
The Wally Show on Simone Biles Withdrawal
- If You’re Looking for a Sign - October 6, 2021
- 17 Apologies I Owe Human Moms (From a Dog Mom) - September 7, 2021
- 4 Creative Ways to Build Community - August 6, 2021
Different perspective with great insight and thought.
Changed my mind about the situation.
I totally agree with you Bekah. She also
Could be permanently paralyzed if she falls during one of her aerial moves because of being in the wrong head space. She is brave and doing the right thing for herself and as an example to others. Mental health is as important as physical health and should be prioritized not stigmatized as being a quitter.
Home run article bekah. I sent it to many here at my hospital in Cumberland, MD. This is a real need in our nation right now. Mental health is a major issue today. Well done !!!!
Well said! 🙂
Thank you for this!
So well said! ❤️
I was very disappointed at all the hateful critics! Obviously none of them had ever had mental health issues & it showed big time! Though I am not athletic at all, I have been in a couple of bad depressions & trying to function at all was hard! I can’t imagine trying to do her routines! Thank you Bekah for putting Simone’s “walking away” in perspective!
Well said! Mental health issues are more prevalent, especially now. I teach high school and have seen a rapid increase in mental health issues that scares me. Simone’s choice could help our hurting nation start to heal.
Nope I don’t agree with you at all she’s a quitter. She signed up to be in the Olympics she signed up to be on a team and she signed up to do her very best to win and represent the USA. If she was a soldier she would have abandoned her troops. If she was a mom and she fell on hard times would she take care of her children? Would her children see her be a quitter? Would she give up and not fight for her children to take care of them so they could survive? Would she… Read more »
If she were a mom, I would support her taking a moment to breathe while a trusted family member stepped in. She didn’t abandon anyone. She realized that competing would not only be dangerous (because getting the “twisties” in gymnastics can quite literally be fatal if you land wrong) but would potentially jeopardize team USA medaling at all. Yes, life is hard. I know that better than most. But she didn’t quit. She made a decision that was going to be best for everyone involved.
You are a very hard and inhumane person. Thank God you are not the judge or jury.