It’s official–Simone Biles is now one of the most decorated gymnasts in history. But she changed the game of all sports at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Citing all-around pressure and “the twisties,” Biles had to pull out of the team finals and the individual rounds to focus on her mental and physical health. On top of that, it was reported that the gymnast lost her aunt during the Olympic Games.
Biles has received widespread support but also piercing backlash after she exited the team finals. Now that she is going home with a silver and a bronze medal, sports fans and followers of the athlete should consider watching the 2018 biographical sports movie The Simone Biles Story: Courage to Soar.
The movie is based on her autobiography
Released on Feb. 3, 2018, on Lifetime, the film is based on Biles’ autobiography. The movie outlines her family history, how she got her start in gymnastics, and the road to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The beginning of the film shows the young Biles being placed into foster care, then, fortunately, being adopted by her grandparents. Switching back to a few old home videos of the Biles flipping in her living room and practicing in the gym, the story somersaults into its focus: Why this gymnast is considered great.
One scene that stands out is when the characters, Biles and her friend hear two classmates deriding her for her muscular stature. “She’s got arms like a dude,” one mocks in the scene. Bullying is something most don’t realize happened to Biles in her adolescence.
Why watching it now is different
Although the movie accentuates why she is more than her medals, viewing it now holds a different meaning. The athlete has spoken out about health and wellness since the 2016 Olympics, yet the film displays her as a tough competitor training under Marta Karolyi in a positive light. However, most viewers found out what the gymnast went through under Karolyi’s training.
Watching the movie now, viewers will see Biles’ character feel excited to simply walk by Marta Karolyi in the hallway, saying: “Do you know who that was? Marta Karolyi. She trains all the best gymnasts…She’s a legend.” But the reality is that Biles and other gymnasts were subjected to various forms of abuse under Karolyi’s strict training. The case against Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics doctor who sexually abused countless athletes, emerged in 2018–around the same time that the film premiered.
The film demonstrates the opposite of what the reality was (and is) for the star gymnast. The truth about the abuse at the Karolyi Ranch was not publicly confronted throughout her 2016 Olympics training. In a tweet that broke fans’ hearts, Biles wrote that she too was abused by Nassar, and she started to speak out against USAG from then on.
In addition to the abuse case, Biles made headlines again in 2021 when she pulled out of the Summer Olympics team finals to prioritize her mental health and safety. Prior to the day when she was removed from the competition, the gymnast wrote on Instagram “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.”
The movie does not ultimately exemplify the new conversation connecting athleticism and mental health; it conveys the different atmosphere that Biles was under at the time of the film’s production. The character is shown with a more external approach: Biles’ public bubbly personality and her determination to take bigger risks. But viewers can watch it now with a deeper appreciation and knowledge for Biles for what she went through behind closed doors.
She walked away with less medals but more strength
Although fans and sports enthusiasts were initially shocked when she pulled out of most of the competition, Biles has shared why mental health is more important for an athlete and their safety. According to ESPN, she said, “I think we’ve opened bigger doors and bigger conversations.”
The gymnast did not compete in the Women’s All-Around or the individual finals, she was cleared to compete on the Balance Beam Finals on Aug. 3, 2021. She received a bronze medal for her flawless performance on the beam and shared that she would “forever cherish this unique olympic experience.”
The Simone Biles Story: Courage to Soar can be streamed for free on Pluto TV and can also be purchased on Amazon Prime.
Related: Does Simone Biles Have a Higher Net Worth Than Her Boyfriend Jonathan Owens?
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