Two days before Simone Biles' triumphant return to the Ariake Gymnastic Centre at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where she won her seventh Olympic medal, a bronze on the balance beam, her aunt suddenly died the American told reporters Tuesday (3 August).
"At the end of the day, people don't understand what we are going through," said Biles. "Two days ago, I woke up and my aunt unexpectedly passed, and it wasn't any easier being here at the Olympic Games."
For Biles, it was just another obstacle she had to overcome after she withdrew from the women's team competition last Tuesday (27 July). She later told reporters she had a case of the “twisties” - a gymnastics phenomenon where the mind and body do not connect as they previous have.
Biles had qualified to the individual all-around (29 July) and all four of the apparatus medal rounds, scheduled for 1-3 August but eventually withdrew from all but balance beam to focus on her mental health.
It sparked a worldwide conversation that Biles says means more than any medal ever could.
"Definitely bringing a light to the conversation of mental health, it's something that people go through a lot that is kind of pushed under the rug," said Biles when asked whether an Olympic medal or the conversation she has helped start in Tokyo was more important."I feel like we're not just entertainment, we're humans, as well, and we have feelings."
Though it was not the Tokyo Games anyone expected for Biles, the 24-year-old says she's heading home happy.
"Leaving Tokyo with 2 more Olympic medals to add to my collection isn't too shabby!" she posted on Instagram Wednesday (4 August).