Simone Biles named Time's 2021 Athlete of the Year
Why it matters: Biles is widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time and is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. But outside of the gymnastics arena, she's also been an advocate for mental health and vocal in criticizing how institutions have failed to address sexual abuse of young athletes.
At the Tokyo Olympics in July, Biles, who was favored to win five gold medals, withdrew from five events, saying she had a case of "the twisties" and was pulling out to prioritize her mental well-being.
- Biles ultimately left Tokyo with a silver medal in the team competition and a bronze for the balance beam, but continued to use her platform to advocate for mental health.
- "Gymnastics isn't everything at the end of the day," Biles said. "At the end of the day, I have to do what's right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being."
- Over 160 athletes, including Biles, accused Nassar of sexual abuse under the guise of medical care. He was found guilty in 2018 and will serve at least 100 years in prison.
- Biles' emotional testimony about the failures of the FBI, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee prompted an apology from the FBI for failing to properly investigate Nassar.
What they're saying: Several athletes have praised Biles' openness, with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick noting her "grace, eloquence and courage."
- “Her influence extends far beyond the realm of sports and shows us that another world—a better world—is possible when we speak our truths with integrity and authenticity," Kaepernick told Time.
- “Sacrifice gives back way more than it costs,” five-time NBA All-Star and mental health advocate Kevin Love said. “I do believe that it often takes one person to change the trajectory of a whole system.”
- “To see her choose herself, we’re going to see the effects of that for the next generation," Allyson Felix, the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history, told Time.