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Rise On

By Andrew Guan

Simone Biles, the legendary professional American gymnast, has won a record of four Olympic medals, stripping that of all other athletes. However, she has experienced excruciating pain and torment during her long journey.

It all began when Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, a longtime national team doctor, assaulted hundreds of female athletes, including Biles herself. Afterwards, Biles said she felt betrayed and deeply hurt. Now, Biles is one of the very few athletes assaulted by Nassar to come forwards and participate in Tokyo this year. “At the end of the day, I’m not representing U.S.A. Gymnastics,” says Biles.

Biles’s words contain lots of influence. For example, three days after she tweeted that national team gymnasts shouldn’t return to the Texas training center where Nassar assaulted many girls, U.S.A. Gymnastics cut its ties with it. She supported the Black Lives Matter movement, with full understanding that people would judge her for her decision.

Biles pressed through a tough life as a foster child. Many items were unaffordable. The same year Biles was adopted, a Houston coach recognized her talent for gymnastics. She became very good at gymnastics. She was asked in May, why do the impossibly hard skills if you don’t get rewarded for it. Her response? “Because I can.”

In May, Biles switched from her contract with Nike to Athleta, a women’s clothing company. For Biles, the switch was easy because it “aligned with her values.” The move dealt a direct blow to U.S.A. Gymnastics, but without Biles, there would be no tour. Biles’s decision also hurt the men’s gymnastics side.

Biles has recently thought of retirement from gymnastics. She called the past five years a “long journey.” Her coach, Cecile Landi, told Biles to take a long break. She bought a house in Spring, Texas, not far from Houston. “At the end of the day, I’m such a huge athlete, but who am I? If you take off that mask, you know, who I will be? I’m still trying to figure that out.”

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