Simone Biles Announced As Time Magazine's 2021 Athlete Of The Year
Biles is being recognized as an advocate for mental heath and a voice for sexual abuse survivors.
December 09, 2021 at 2:54 pm
Time magazine announced on Thursday that Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles will carry the prestigious title of its 2021 Athlete of the Year.
Biles, 24, has been touted as the greatest gymnast of all time, winning a total of 32 Olympic and world championship medals. Seven of her medals were awarded to her at the Olympics, which include four gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals, according to the Independent.
— TIME (@TIME) December 9, 2021
The Ohio native and advocate for mental health awareness has also been speaking up for victims of sexual abuse.
In September, Biles and other members of the United States gymnastic team testified before Congress that the federal law enforcement and other gymnastic officials failed to intervene when sexual abuse complaints were brought up against the team's doctor, Larry Nassar, KHOU 11 reports.
During the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, she won the bronze for her balance beam routine and silver with her team. Soon after, she withdrew from her next four events and only returned to compete in the final competition. The athlete said she was experiencing "the twisties," a temporary stint when a gymnast becomes disoriented while in midair. The condition is dangerous when an athlete is tumbling in the air and landing, TMZ reports.
Biles spoke at an Olympic press conference to explain her decision to withdraw, saying, "I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being."
While many fans of Biles and fellow athletes praised her for highlighting mental health, critics lambasted her decision to end her participation in the Olympics.
Sunisa Lee, Biles' teammate who was also named Athlete of the Year by Sports Illustrated, along with swimmer Caeleb Dressel, said she supports Biles' decision because she changed the perception of sports and athletes.
"What Simone did was change the way we view our well-being, 100%. It showed us that we are more than the sport, that we are human beings who also can have days that are hard. It really humanized us," Lee said, according to Time.
Biles added that she has no regrets about how she dealt with her responsibilities while in Tokyo.
"I was torn because things weren’t going the way I wanted," Biles told Time. "But looking back, I wouldn’t change it for anything."