In an interview with New York Magazine published Monday, the gymnast revealed she felt off when she first arrived in Tokyo. “Leading up to it, I got more and more nervous,” she shared. “I didn’t feel as confident as I should have been with as much training as we had.”
“My perspective has never changed so quickly from wanting to be on a podium to wanting to be able to go home, by myself, without any crutches,” she said. When reflecting on the Tokyo Olympics, Biles said, “You know, there have been highs, there have been lows. Sometimes it’s like, yeah, I’m perfectly okay with it. Like, that’s how it works. That’s how it panned out. And then other times I’ll just start bawling in the house.”
The decorated athlete decided to pull herself from the Olympics’ gymnastics team finals and the all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics in July. At the time, she explained on her Instagram that she had the “twisties” which she said happens when a gymnast, “Literally can not tell up from down. It’s the craziest feeling ever not having an inch of control over your body.”
Biles tearfully explained, “If you looked at everything I’ve gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team. I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was too much. But I was not going to let him take something I’ve worked for since I was 6 years old. I wasn’t going to let him take that joy away from me. So I pushed past that for as long as my mind and my body would let me.”
The 24-year-old was one of hundreds of young women and girls who were sexually abused by USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Biles first shared her story of abuse in 2018. Nearly two weeks ago, she spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate for a Judiciary Committee hearing on the FBI’s conduct regarding Nassar’s investigation.
In a clip from the hearing posted on Twitter, she said “I am also a survivor of sexual abuse and I believe, without a doubt, that the circumstances that led to my abuse and allowed it to continue are directly the result of the fact that the organizations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, failed to do their jobs.”
When speaking with New York Magazine, Biles said that she attends therapy to help her through the healing process. “This will probably be something I work through for 20 years,” she shared. “No matter how much I try to forget. It’s a work in progress.”
Biles also explained that prioritizing her physical and mental health gave her the opportunity to cheer on her teammates from the sidelines, something she has never done before.
“I’ve always made the finals. I’ve never sat in the crowd,” she explained. “I’ve always wanted to see myself, like have an out-of-body experience, and I feel like God gave that to me. I got to watch the girls and my competitors compete. I was wowed by what they did, like, ‘How are they doing that? Like, How amazing is this?’”
She also addressed those who criticized her decision and said the situation was more than just having a “bad day.” She compared her lack of control while competing to a 30-year-old waking up and suddenly losing their eyesight. “One morning, you wake up, you can’t see shit, but people tell you to go on and do your daily job as if you still have your eyesight. You’d be lost, wouldn’t you?” she asked. “That’s the only thing I can relate it to. I have been doing gymnastics for 18 years. I woke up — lost it. How am I supposed to go on with my day?”
When looking back at the Olympics, Biles says that she does not regret her choice: “Everybody asks, ‘If you could go back, would you?’ No. I wouldn’t change anything because everything happens for a reason. And I learned a lot about myself — courage, resilience, how to say no and speak up for yourself.”