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‘Sometimes It’s Hard’: Gold Medalist Simone Biles Admits Heavy ‘Pressure’ at Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Gymnastics - Artistic - Women's Individual All-Around - Qualification - Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan - July 25, 2021. Simone Biles of the United States looks on during competition.
© REUTERS / DYLAN MARTINEZ

Although the US gymnastics team is heavily favored to dominate in the 2020 Summer Olympics, weekend qualifiers saw the group come behind the Russian Olympic Committee by just one point.

American gymnast Simone Biles recently took to social media and gave the public insight into the circumstances that emerge when competing at the Olympic Games, underscoring that the pressure can be all-too overwhelming at times.

The famed gold medalist’s remarks came just moments after she wrapped the day’s qualifying events on July 25, which put her in position to compete in all six finals - team, individual all-around, floor exercises, beam, uneven bars and vault. Biles managed to qualify for the uneven bars after a "two-per-country" rule bumped two Russian gymnasts from competing in the event.

Taking to Instagram late Sunday, Biles acknowledged that even though she managed to pull through, Sunday simply “wasn’t an easy day,” and also hadn’t seen her perform at her “best.” 

“I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard,” she wrote as part of a photo caption. “The Olympics is no joke!”

She later commented that she was overjoyed to have her family “be with me virtually,” adding that her close-knit family “mean the world to me.”

© REUTERS / MIKE BLAKE
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Gymnastics - Artistic - Women's Uneven Bars - Qualification - Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan - July 25, 2021. Simone Biles of the United States in action during the uneven bars REUTERS/Mike Blake/File photo SEARCH "OLYMPICS DAY 3" FOR TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS EDITOR'S CHOICE, SEARCH "REUTERS OLYMPICS TOPIX" FOR ALL EDITOR'S CHOICE PICTURES.
Bouncing back into training, Biles took to Instagram once again on Monday, indicating that she is ready for a “fresh start” following the preliminary rounds. 

It’s no secret that athletes face overwhelming amounts of pressure, even more so when specifically representing their home country at world events televised around the globe. No stranger to said pressure, fellow American champion gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Nastia Liukin weighed in and offered their support of Biles.

Douglas, who was the breakout star at the 2012 London Olympics and also performed in the 2016 Games, remarked during an interview on E! News’ “Daily Pop” show that she sympathized with Biles’ feelings.

“Honestly, gymnastics is very, very mental,” the three-time gold medalist said. “I completely understand - it’s a lot. Not only from you, but from coaches, from social media, from media.”

“It’s so many factors, so many avenues of pressure, especially with a pandemic going on,” Douglas added.

Similar acknowledgments were also voiced by Liukin, who represented the US during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Writing on Instagram, the gymnast-turned-commentator commented that “people forget that even the very best in the world are still human - with hearts, nerves, pain, stress, anxiety, pressure.”

“So let’s continue to spread our love and support to our athletes who are doing something SO difficult already,” she continued, “and then having to also handle the weight of an entire nation and world on their shoulders during a pandemic without fans AND their number one supporters, their family.”

Despite the few shaky moments that appeared during Biles’ performances over the weekend, the accomplished gymnast will be the first woman to compete in all six finals at a single Olympic event since the 1992 Games. 

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