Simone Biles: 'I should have quit way before Tokyo 2020'

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Simone Biles: 'I should have quit way before Tokyo 2020' - AFP
Simone Biles: 'I should have quit way before Tokyo 2020' - AFP

Four-time Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles believes she should have "quit way before" the Tokyo Games due to the impact of the Larry Nassar abuse investigation.

Biles withdrew from five of her six finals in Japan to focus on her mental health after finding she was unable to execute her performances in the opening team event.

The 24-year-old, who had been expected to add to the four gold medals she won at Rio 2016, spoke in 2018 about being abused by team doctor Larry Nassar, who is now serving a life sentence in jail, and seven weeks on from the end of the Tokyo Games the American has admitted that she should not have gone to Japan in the first place.

"If you looked at everything I've gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team," she said in a New York Magazine interview.

"I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was too much. But I was not going to let him take something I've worked for since I was six years old.

"I wasn't going to let him take that joy away from me. So I pushed past that for as long as my mind and my body would let me."

Biles came unstuck in Tokyo when she suffered what she described as 'the Twisties', a phenomenon in gymnastics which temporarily affects an athlete's spatial awareness as the body and mind no longer operate unilaterally.

The incident triggered widespread support from her fans as well as her American team-mates, and she has opened up on what it felt like to go through the ordeal when she knew she could no longer reach the highs of her past achievements.

"Say up until you're 30 years old, you have your complete eyesight (then) one morning, you wake up, you can't see s---, but people tell you to go on and do your daily job as if you still have your eyesight," she added.

"You'd be lost, wouldn't you? That's the only thing I can relate it to. I have been doing gymnastics for 18 years. I woke up - lost it. How am I supposed to go on with my day?"

The 19-time world champion returned home from the rearranged Games with bronze in the balance beam after choosing to make a comeback in the final of her planned events, and also claimed a silver medal in the team competition as her American team-mates were able to continue without her - with Biles returning to the sidelines to emphatically support them through each discipline.

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