It feels like forever since we’ve watched Simone Biles compete on the world’s stage. Although the Tokyo Olympics took place only three years ago, it’s truly a different world. In 2020, the Olympics were pushed back a year due to the pandemic. And because of the pandemic, fans could not attend the games in summer 2021. In that aspect, it made the Olympic games forgettable. Those games also took place in the wake of Larry Nassar finally being brought to justice for his sexual assault of the young ladies of USA Gymnastics.

What we weren’t paying much attention to at the time was not only the weight of that case, but the amount of pressure that Biles was under. Biles mentioned in a 2021 interview that “my mental’s not there,” in regards to her withdrawing from the 2020 Olympics. I can only imagine what it felt like to have been so vulnerable to share her story with USA Gymnastics. Then you couple that with being expected to bring home the gold medal. It’s a lot.

The USA Women’s Gymnastics team finished with a silver medal in the Tokyo games. With help from the great Jordan Chiles and others, they showcased just how talented the program still was. Still, at least in my eyes, their triumph didn’t highlight the ladies as much as I think it should have. They had been through a lot, and for this win to have taken place, it’s remarkable.

The lore of a gold medal is something else. The win or go home mentality is important in some respects. It’s a great goal to set. But having the presence of mind to know when enough is enough is paramount. That’s really the significance of Biles stepping away. She did it at the right time, for her. She should forever be applauded for that.

This beings us to this year’s Olympic games in Paris. There’s a great opportunity here for Team USA Women’s Gymnastics to truly make a comeback to prominence that we’re all accustomed to. But this time around I believe that it’ll be in healthier fashion. I make this comment with no pressure added. But this team is welcoming back the statistical greatest of all-time in Biles. With the ugliness of a past regime behind them, and Biles in a healthier mental space, the sky is truly the limit.

In my opinion, this year’s Olympic games has several redemption stories in play. After a 2023 loss in the FIBA World Championships, Team USA Men’s Basketball retooled their roster to maintain their world dominance in this year’s games. In what will likely be LeBron James‘ final Team USA campaign, they look to go out with a bang.

Then you have Sha’Carri Richardson for Team USA Track & Field, who at one time was a subject of controversy. She looks to continue to shut up the naysayers, as she sets new standards in that sport both on and off of the field. But most interestingly, you have Biles, and Team USA Gymnastics. As a collective, they’ve persevered more than we can imagine. A win for them would be a perfect bookend for Biles and the entire program. It’ll usher in a new era of respect across the board for these athletes. A necessary change that’s been long overdue.