The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

‘I have the weight of the world on my shoulders’: Simone Biles reveals pressure ahead of gymnastics event

‘I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard,’ gymnastics star says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 26 July 2021 17:16

Related video: Simone Biles Talks Pros & Cons Of Olympic Postponement

Leer en Español

Team USA Gymnastics star Simone Biles has spoken out about the pressure she feels after Sunday’s less than stellar performance during the Olympic qualifiers.

That the US was going to win the women’s team gymnastics gold was almost a foregone conclusion until Russia came out on top with the US reaching the final after a second-place finish in the qualifying round.

Entering the final after making some uncharacteristic mistakes, the team will now try to retain their title as reigning Olympic champions on Tuesday.

“It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it,” Ms Biles wrote in an Instagram post from Tokyo on Monday morning local time.

“I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times,” she added. “I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke! BUT I’m happy my family was able to be with me virtually they mean the world to me!”

She included a selfie of her family on a monitor watching her from back home in the US.

Ms Biles, 24, is chasing another five gold medals in Tokyo to add to the four golds and one bronze she grabbed in Rio in 2016. She also has 19 world championship gold medals.

The US has won every team gold in every Olympics and world championship since 2011. But the athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) showed they’re in the fight for the top spot.

Russia’s flag and anthem have been banned from the games for two years because of their state-sponsored doping programme, but Russian athletes who haven’t been found to have used performance-enhancing drugs can still compete under the ROC flag.

Russia has not won the women’s team gold since 1992 in Barcelona when fifteen former Soviet republics chose to compete together as the United Team following the dissolution of the Soviet Union on 26 December 1991.

The Russians have been right behind the Americans, clinching the silver medal in the last two Olympic Summer Games.

“I feel we did a pretty good job,” Ms Biles told reporters on Sunday. “Obviously there are little things we need to work on, so we’ll go back and practice and work on that, just so we can do our best performance at team finals because that's what matters.”

“We’re really striving for top three,” she added. But anything but gold is unlikely to be satisfactory for the US team considering the sky-high expectations.

“This is not the finals, this is getting into the finals,” said USA Gymnastics high-performance coordinator Tom Forster. “Sometimes, just like in any other sport, great athletes drop the ball in the end-zone or a quarterback throws an interception. It happens.”

Just one point separated the US and the ROC on Sunday. China came in third, nearly five points behind the ROC. France, Belgium, and Britain are also hoping to grab a podium spot.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments