Simone Biles says she’s returning to Olympics to ‘be a voice’ for abuse survivors
"I just feel like [with] everything that happened, I had to come back to the sport to be a voice, to have change happen," said Biles
Olympic champion Simone Biles is ready to return to the mat.
The star gymnast, 24, was on the Today show Wednesday to talk about the upcoming Tokyo Games and speaking up for abuse victims.
“I just feel like [with] everything that happened, I had to come back to the sport to be a voice, to have change happen,” Biles told Today host Hoda Kotb.
“Because I feel like if there weren’t a remaining survivor in the sport, they would’ve just brushed it to the side.”
The athlete was one of many who came forward about the abuse they suffered from Team USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, per People.
In 2020 she spoke to Vogue about how the experience impacted her mental health.
“I was very depressed,” she said. “At one point I slept so much because, for me, it was the closest thing to death without harming myself. It was an escape from all of my thoughts, from the world, from what I was dealing with. It was a really dark time.”
The young athlete admitted she even felt guilty for speaking out about her experience.
“But I was reading Maggie’s coverage and it just hit me,” she said at the time. “I was like, I’ve had the same treatments. I remember Googling, like, sexually abused. Because I know some girls had it worse than me. I know that for a fact. So I felt like I wasn’t abused because it wasn’t to the same extent as the other girls.”
Biles said she is more than ready for the Tokyo Games which are now 100 days away. She said she plans to keep using her platform to shed light on the issue of abuse.
“Since I’m still here and I have quite a social media presence and platform, they have to do something,” said Biles. “So I feel like, coming back, gymnastics just wasn’t the only purpose I was supposed to do.”
She continued, “I don’t think I knew [that was part of my reason], either, but I feel like gymnastics wasn’t the only thing I was supposed to come back for.”
Nassar is currently behind bars after 150 girls and women, including the sport’s first individual all-around African-American Olympic champion, Gabby Douglas, came forward about their experiences with him. He was charged with child pornography and sexual misconduct and is now serving a 175-year sentence.
“Your crimes have cut into the core of this community and families and many we don’t know,” said Michigan’s Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina when she handed out the sentence in 2018, per People.
“There was no medical treatment. You did this for your pleasure and your control. You still think that somehow you are right … I wouldn’t send my dogs to you, sir.”
“It was my honor and privilege to sentence you,” Aquilina added, saying she wants the predator in prison for life.“I just signed your death warrant.”
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