Simone Biles named TIME’s 2021 Athlete of the Year
“I do believe everything happens for a reason,” Biles tells the publication.
This week Simone Biles was named TIME‘s 2021 Athlete of the Year. In the accompanying profile, she gets candid about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
In September, the superstar gymnast slammed the FBI’s handling of the Nassar sex abuse case during testimony in a congressional hearing, theGrio previously reported.
“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 (USAG) and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) – failed to do their jobs,” Bailes testified.
Biles has repeatedly called on the USAG and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to take responsibility for enabling Nassar by ignoring repeated reports of him abusing young girls. Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting young athletes and was sentenced in 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison. Several of Nassar’s victims have spoken out about the impact of the abuse but none have been more vocal than Biles.
“I definitely do think it had an effect,” she tells TIME of publicly discussing the abuse. “It’s a lot to put on one person. I feel like the guilt should be on them and should not be held over us. They should be feeling this [pain], not me.”
During the Toyko Olympics this summer, Biles withdrew from multiple events, citing mental health reasons. Having trained for the Games for five years, she pushed herself to compete in the balance beam final.
“At that point, it was no longer about medaling, but about getting back out there,” Biles tells TIME. “I wanted to compete at the Olympics again and have that experience that I came for. I didn’t really care about the outcome. On that beam, it was for me.”
The Olympic championship took a stand for her mental and physical health during the Tokyo Olympics and caught plenty of heat from haters and critics for doing so.
As TIME writes, “Biles made clear the importance of prioritizing oneself and refusing to succumb to external expectations.”
“I do believe everything happens for a reason, and there was a purpose,” Biles tells the publication. “Not only did I get to use my voice, but it was validated as well.”
Read Simone Biles’ full Athlete of the Year article on TIME.
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