Simone Biles may well be the greatest women's gymnast of all time. Her career is studded with unique and amazing routines. When she dropped out of Olympic competition yesterday, she got plenty of stick for it, but allow me to stand up for her. Your psyche is part of your health.
If she had broken an ankle or pulled a muscle, no one would criticize her. Because she freaked out, they do. She's performing at a fantastically high level, on the world stage, with all the expectations of the team on her shoulders. Her work requires total concentration. Any disruption of that concentration could result in a fall, an injury and definitely a bad score. As I understand it, she made some mistakes in one of her routines and just couldn't shake the fear that came from it.
Back when the Magna Carta was being signed, my dad took me to the circus. There, one of the high-wire artists fell. There was no net. After tending to him on the ground, they took him away in an ambulance. He was in bad shape. The show went on in the tradition of the circus.
Directly after his horrible exit, another high-wire act went on stage. In it, a woman was doing tricks on a chair attached to a pole, about 40' from the ground. She got to the top and froze. For 90 seconds, she stood on top of the chair. Everyone in the place was terrified, especially her. When she finally recovered her composure, she managed to get back on the chair, do a few tricks and then get down. The crowd went wild.
Until now, Simone has been sold as a gymnastics robot. There's no chink in her armor! She's the greatest ever! There are routines named after her! She's a shoo-in for the gold! There was nothing about her with which the average person could relate. She was a machine. Her failure in these Olympics has tripled my estimation of her. She's a real, flesh and blood woman with fears and anxieties. That she succumbed to them isn't a failing, it's a testament to what she had to overcome to get to this point.
|Good on ya, Simone. You must have played through plenty in your career.|
Update: Check out this thread from a gymnast explaining what happened to Simone.