Wednesday, July 28, 2021

In Support Of Simone

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.


tim eisele said...

Yes. Expecting someone to do something that is not only demanding, but actually physically dangerous when they don't feel they are in a fit state to do it is wrong.

I just saw someone making the point that, when Kerri Strug did that vault on an injured ankle in 1996, that was effectively the end of her gymnastics career at the age of 18.

One Brow said...

Hear, hear!

psudrozz said...

(waits for 72 hours to pass for my hot take)

There was a kid in my high school named Tom. Tom was the best wrestler anyone had ever seen. Expectations were high and were met. As a freshman he would take ranked upperclassman from around the league and make them look silly.

He also competed in Sambo, and I never knew of a time where he lost.

Sophomore year Tom started to crack. All he was doing was competing. He was tired all the time. He never ate.

He then decided he would wrestle up. He jumped from 103 to 130.

In a pivotal match against our most hated adversary Tom lost. His father stood up in front of the crowd, and screamed at him. Refs and coaches had to hold his dad back. He then informed Tom in front of everyone that Tom walking home and he left.

Tom quit all organized sports. Here's the thing: he was happy. He looked healthy.

I know during prelims Simone looked off. I think instead of pressing through she stepped down and let a teammate who wanted to be there compete; in doing so she did the team a favor.

But I have no idea what is going on with her personal life. Her public history shows she is a great competitor and seems like a decent person.

I hope she finds her focus and competes again. Gymnastics is at a loss without her. But if she walks away I give her the benefit of the doubt.

Kelly the little black dog said...

"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." Excellent.