Simone Biles On Why She 'Should Have Quit Way Before' the Tokyo Olympic Games

The 24-year-old gymnast withdrew from several Olympic events over the summer as she battled the "twisties."

Simone Biles sent shockwaves around the world this summer after she withdrew from several Olympic events to focus on her mental health. And while she did compete in the balance beam final, adding a bronze medal to her already impressive collection, the 24-year-old gymnast revealed in a candid interview with New York Magazine that she should have pulled out of the Tokyo Games ahead of time.

"If you looked at everything I've gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team," said Biles. "I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was just too much."

In 2017, a year after Biles made her Olympics debut in Rio, former Team USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct charges, according to NBC News. Biles said in 2018 that she had been sexually abused by Nassar, who has been accused of molesting more than 130 patients, including fellow gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney. He is currently serving up to 175 years in prison. (See more: Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, and U.S. Gymnasts Give Daming Testimony On Sexual Abuse)

Biles told New York Magazine that she chose to push forward, explaining that she was "not going to let" Nassar "take something [she's] worked hard for" since she was 6 years old. "I wasn't going to let him take that joy away from me," she said. "So I pushed past that for as long as my mind and my body would let me."

Simone Biles NY Mag , TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 27: Simone Biles of Team United States looks on during the Women's Team Final on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.(Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)
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Leading up to the Tokyo Games in July, Biles posted a note to her Instagram page, stating she felt as if she had "the weight of the world" on her shoulders. "I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure don't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard," she posted to social media at the time. Days later, Biles withdrew from several Olympic events, noting she had been battling the "twisties," a phenomenon that can cause a gymnast to lose their sense of dimension and space while in the air, according to BBC.

"It's so dangerous," said Biles to New York Magazine. "It's basically life or death. It's a miracle I landed on my feet. If that was any other person, they would have gone out on a stretcher. As soon as I landed that vault, I went and told my coach: 'I cannot continue.'"

Although Biles continued to compete at the Olympics, her struggles reaffirmed that just because athletes may be at the top of their game, that doesn't mean they're immune to hardships — and in the case of Biles and the "twisties," those hardships aren't something you can just power through. "Say up until you're 30 years old, you have you complete eyesight," she told New York Magazine. "One morning, you wake up, you can't see s—t, but people tell you to go on and do your daily job as if you still have your eyesight. You'd be lost, wouldn't you? That's the only thing I can relate to. I have been doing gymnastics for 18 years. I woke up — lost it. How am I supposed to go on with my day?" (

Looking back at her journey over the past few weeks, however, Biles says she wouldn't change the way life has unfolded. "Everybody asks, 'If you could go back, would you?'" she told New York Magazine. "No. I wouldn't change anything because everything happens for a reason. And I learned a lot about myself — courage, resilience, how to say no and speak up for yourself."

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