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Simone Biles accepts "The Original Award" onstage during the 2021 InStyle Awards at The Getty Center in November. Photo: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for InStyle

Simone Biles, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and the world's most decorated gymnast, was named Time's 2021 Athlete of the Year, the magazine revealed on Thursday.

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."

In September, Biles joined former Team USA teammates to testify before Congress on the FBI's mishandling of sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry 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.

Go deeper

Jan 14, 2022 - Sports

Ultra-strict lockdowns preview what's in store for Beijing Olympics

An outdoor rink in Shenyang, Liaoning Province of China. Photo: Huang Jinkun/VCG via Getty Images

With the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning three weeks from today, ultra-strict lockdowns in Chinese cities provide a glimpse of what the games' protocols will look like.

State of play: China may be the last country on Earth still adhering to a "zero COVID" policy. Rather than relying on vaccines and carefully reopening, China's goal is still to contain the virus via lockdowns.

Janet Yellen co-opts Reaganomics phrase for new Davos speech

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a speech this week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. needs to focus on increasing its productive potential, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will tell world leaders Friday, calling for what she terms "modern supply side economics."

Why it matters: She is co-opting a phrase traditionally used by political conservatives to describe low-tax and deregulatory policies — and framing the Biden administration's initiatives as the best path forward to achieve greater national prosperity.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
59 mins ago - Economy & Business

Calling the startup valuation peak

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Anyone who's called a private market peak over the last decade, or even suggested that air was leaking out of the balloon, has been swiftly humbled. "Nothing matters" has consistently proven to be the only thing that matters.

Our thought bubble: The go-go era is history, even if the economy and new company formations remain strong.