Wow Catholic Gymnast Simone Biles Soars in the Olympics Even After Challenges and Tragic Family Loss
Simone Biles, a 24-year-old Catholic gymnast, captain of the USA Olympic Women’s Gymnastics team and one of the most celebrated American gymnast of all time (Total of 36 medals from the Worlds and Olympics), made a wonderful comeback in the Tokyo Olympics winning both a silver and bronze medal.
Earlier she withdrew from the team competition after competing on both the vault and floor. She explained the need to give attention to her mental wellbeing which can affect complex maneuvers in this dangerous sport. To reporters she said: “I have to put my pride aside. I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being. That’s why I decided to take a step back.” Simone revealed that she was also dealing with the recent death of her aunt while in Tokyo. (See more on "Twities" below)
Simone Biles soared above all sorts of difficulties that she has had in life. She prays before competitions and lights a candle to St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes. In her book, "Courage to Soar" she writes of her Confirmation day, “I marched into St. James the Apostle Church that Sunday in a line of teenagers with solemn faces… in a way, our procession reminded me of a medal ceremony, except that no gold, silver, and bronze medals would be given out. Instead, our prize would be something much more powerful: in a few moments, each of us would bow our heads to receive the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation.” When she was younger she explained that she would often pray the rosary given to her by mom.
The Catechism explains:
"Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good. If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for its sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports." (CCC 2288-89)
Simone Biles was born in Ohio, her mother was battling drug and alcohol abuse and therefore, at age three, Simone was taken away from her mother. Her grandparents in Texas adopted Biles and her younger sister. During her gymnastic career, she also suffered abuse from Lawrence Nassar, who for eighteen years was the team doctor for the US women's national gymnastics team. He sexually abused hundreds of girls and young women.
Despite these traumas Simone Biles continues to shine. Her team won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. She later also won bronze, her seventh Olympic medal, in the individual balance beam event. “[The bronze] means more than all the golds because I’ve been through so much the last five years and the last week while I’ve even been here; it was just… it was very emotional,” she said on NBC’s TODAY Show.
Biles says she is still struggling with the 'twisties.' She said, "I don't think you realise how dangerous this is on a competition/hard surface."
She went on to explain, that she "Literally cannot tell up from down... I also have NO idea where I am going to land. Or what I am going to land on. Head/hands/feet/back." Biles disclosed that the sensation began the morning after qualification, and to prevent further injury, she has to go back to the basics.
Gymnasts have described the twisties as a kind of mental block. In gymnastics, it can cause a person to lose their sense of space and dimension as they are in the air, causing them to lose control of their body and do extra twists or flips that they hadn't intended. In the worst cases, they can find themselves suddenly unable to land safely. (BBC Excerpt)
On her Instagram, Simone wrote, "it wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke! BUT I’m happy my family was able to be with me virtually🤍 they mean the world to me!
Then she posted, "the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before."