Olympics 2021: Could this gymnast be the new Simone Biles?
The 2021 Olympics gymnastics competitions have been full of surprises. Team USA has been through a number of ups & downs, but they’ve managed to come out on top, and they’ll be coming back with a brand new gold medal winner. At Thursday’s all-around competition, Sunisa Lee became the fifth (in a row) American woman to win a gold medal.
Of course, before the Olympics began, everyone assumed that Simone Biles would be taking home the gold medal and helping Team U.S.A. win the gold in the teams competition. All that changed on Tuesday, when Biles excused herself from the team finals after a shaky landing and supposed injury. Luckily Lee, and the rest of the U.S. gymnastics team, rose to the occasion and shocked the world.
Each year of the Olympics is full of surprises, and 2021 is no different. We’ve got all the details on Simone Biles’s unexpected exit and Sunisa Lee’s shocking gold medal win for you right here.
Frontlining mental health
Simone Biles is, without a doubt, the greatest gymnast alive. She’s just twenty-four years old, but she’s already won countless competitions and has brought home multiple Olympic gold medals. She’s also gone undefeated in all-around competition since 2013. The pressure on her going into the 2021 Olympics was immense. She was clearly aware of the scrutiny and said it felt like “the weight of the world” was on her.
The gymnastics team finals were held on Tuesday. On her first move, Biles made one less in-the-air turn than she’d signalled, and her landing seemed uneven. Moments later, she left the floor and allowed her teammates to finish the competition without her. Even after losing their heavy hitter, Team U.S.A. managed to clinch the silver medal.
Biles later clarified that she wasn’t injured but felt that something was wrong and couldn’t get into the proper headspace to compete. Rather than risk injuring herself, she decided to step back from competing. Her decision sparked a cultural conversation about mental health in athletes and previous examples of gymnasts pushing themselves much too far to win big at the Olympics.
Simone Biles made a brave decision to prioritize her own health over athletic glory, especially knowing how much criticism she would receive from commentators online. Luckily, though there are some detractors out there, most sports fans have voiced their support for Biles and her decision. Mental health should always be a top priority, but there was still a competition going on.
With Biles out for the count, expectations for Team U.S.A. dropped significantly. By now, the team has proved all their doubters wrong. First, they won the silver medal at Tuesday’s team finals. Then, Team U.S.A. got a brand new gold medalist at the all-around competition on Thursday.
When the Olympics were postponed to 2021, Sunisa Lee worried about whether she’d be able to keep her skills up to compete. When she broke her left foot last June, her worries increased. Lee managed to heal and push through, though the injury causes her some pain even today, and she joined Team U.S.A. to go to Tokyo.
On Thursday, Lee did three passes on her floor routine. With Biles and her other teammates cheering from the stands, and her family watching raptly from home, Lee won the gold medal. She is the first Asian woman, from any country, who’s won the gold in the all-around. As the world cheered her on, Lee herself could hardly believe the victor. “It doesn’t feel like real life,” she said.
Have you been following the 2021 Olympics? Do you think Sunisa Lee is the new Simone Biles? Tell us what you think in the comments!