Rounding Off: Simone Biles says, "My body and my mind just said no"

Plus, how Suni Lee plans to balance her busy schedule and a look back at Romania's floor from Atlanta 1996

By Scott Bregman
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Seven-time Olympic gymnastics medallist Simone Biles sat down with the woman who knows her best – her mother, Nellie Biles – to discuss her decision to withdraw from several finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to focus on her mental health.

“I definitely had the team in my best interest, and that's why I decided to pull out. I didn't want to potentially lose a medal spot for them because the girls were more than prepared to go in and to do their job, which they did,” said Biles, who is currently preparing for a U.S.-wide gymnastics tour with four of her five Olympic teammates.

With a few weeks since the Games, Biles has had a short period of time in which to evaluate what happened in Tokyo where she taught the world not only about putting one’s self first but also the twisties.

“I wouldn't even say it started in Tokyo. I feel like it was probably a little bit deeper rooted than that. I think it was just a stress factor kind of built up over time, and my body and my mind just said ‘no,’” she said. “But even I didn't know I was going through it until it just happened.

“It just sucks,” she continued. “Like train five years. It doesn't go the way you wanted. But I know that I helped a lot of people and athletes speak out about mental health and saying no, because I knew that I couldn't go out there and compete like I knew I was going to get hurt.”

Biles ended her Games on a high note, matching her balance beam bronze medal from Rio 2016 in the last apparatus final of the competition.

But her Tokyo experience is about more than just medals.

“Once I kind of took a step back, I obviously was expecting to feel like a lot of backlash and embarrassment. But it's the complete opposite,” the 24-year-old said. “That's the first time I felt like... human like besides Simone Biles, I was Simone and people kind of respected that.”

Suni Lee prepares for a new kind of balance act

As Sunisa Lee, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic all-around champion, prepares for her turn on 'Dancing with the Stars,' she's also prepping for a new balancing act: her time.

The 18-year-old recently started classes at Auburn University - and will continue to take them through her time on the show virtually. The gymnast, who won gold, silver and bronze in Tokyo, says she'll miss being on campus but there is one bright side: no matter how long she remains on the show, she'll be home in time for her university's famed rivalry game against the University of Alabama.

“The last show is on the 22nd [of October]. I had to make sure,” Lee said according to an interview with the Opelika-Auburn News. “I was like, ‘Phew.’”

While filming in Los Angeles, Auburn head coach Jeff Graba will check in with Lee periodically.

“I’ll be staying there for about two months, which is very sad because I’ll miss the whole football season. But I’m going to be coming back hopefully a couple of times, and then I’ll be back in November,” she said. “Well, it really just depends on how long I’m on the show."

From the vault...

This week, we take a look back at the Romanian women's squad's optional floor rotation from Atlanta 1996. Simona Amanar led the team with a 9.887 score, performing her routine during loud cheers for Team USA's balance beam rotation. Romania finished with the bronze medal.