Simone Biles doesn’t look back on her 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic experience fondly, in spite of taking home four gold medals and setting a U.S. record for most gold medals in women’s gymnastics at a single Olympic game.
The 24-year-old athlete dominated in the Rio Games, earning golds in the gymnastics team competition, individual all-around, vault, and floor exercise categories. After receiving a .5-point deduction during her balance-beam performance, Biles was awarded the bronze medal for the category. However, instead of walking away from the event with only a sense of pride and accomplishment, Biles was also left feeling “ashamed’ because she put more stock into the opinions of those around her than her own.
“Everybody had such high expectations for me that at the end of the day, I feel like it didn’t matter what I did, as long as I satisfied everybody around me,” Biles told Sports Illustrated. “I was so happy that I even medaled because of the mistake that I had, but I felt so ashamed because people were pissed off that I ruined their [headline] of five gold medals.”
The gymnastics phenom has been dealing with a bit of a double-edged sword as her career and skills have continued to evolve. If her few shortcomings being magnified by public opinion is one edge, then the other is surpassing expectations of what is thought possible, only to be penalized for it.
Biles recently aired out her frustration with the International Gymnastics Federation’s scoring of her routines, accusing them of “devaluing skills,” which now makes her feel as if she has a “target” on her back for attempting never-before-completed stunts. “I’m kind of breaking boundaries. And they’re like ‘Well, wait a minute! We need to change this real quick. What can we do?’” she said during a recent episode of the Facebook Watch series “Simone vs. Herself.”
Following the 2016 Olympic Games, Biles went on hiatus for the following year, choosing to focus her energies on completing her autobiography, “Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance,” and competing on “Dancing with the Stars,” where she landed the fourth spot in the tournament. By 2018, she was back to breaking records after earning six medals at the 2018 World Championships, making her the first American to win medals in every event at the competition.