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Letter: To thine own self be true

Published: 8/1/2021 7:00:24 AM

Simone Biles’ accomplishments have been breathtaking, gravity defying, and frankly, beyond comprehension. As a representative of the US, she’s amazed, entertained and inspired us year after year. Because of Biles’ precision, it’s easy to forget that what she’s doing is incredibly dangerous. Every aspect of her body and mind need to be in perfect sync. If that alignment is disrupted, the results could be disastrous. Biles’ decision to withdraw was one to respect herself and the limits of her body and mind. She was born with a gift. Through discipline and denial, she nurtured and developed that gift to the furthest extremes. USA Gymnastics partnered with her, but neither the US nor her fans have any claim on her. And USA Gymnastics’ failure to construct a safe boundary between the organization and the athlete’s body further underscores this truth.

Simone Biles is sovereign over her mind and body, and she owes us nothing. Could one call Simone Biles a quitter? Well, sure. She’s just like anyone who has been brave enough to draw a line in the sand and say, “Enough. I choose myself: my health, my sanity, my safety, my life above all.” To quit, to stop, to regroup, or to walk away from something that does not feel right or is no longer in one’s best interest takes superhuman courage. Abusers, critics, bosses, lovers and fans demand the relationship, the service, the entertainment, the status quo. It’s not easy to walk through the storm of criticism and gossip that follows in the wake of these kinds of decisions. Biles stepped apart from others’ expectations and made a life positive decision for herself. I didn’t think she could be any stronger, any braver, any more admirable. This week she showed America a new dimension of her strength. Gymnastic feats bear her name; here’s a new one for the dictionary. Simbile (noun) A: Decision that is based on a keen understanding of the relationship between one’s mind and body. B: A person who stays true to themselves, despite great pressure to prioritize other’s wants and needs over their own.

Chali Davis



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