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Simone Biles Doesn't Exist To Make America Proud

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Billy Binion | 7.28.2021 5:01 PM

Simone Biles, broadly understood to be the best gymnast of all time, withdrew on Tuesday from the Olympic team event, citing a medical condition. With Biles at the helm, Team USA was favored to win the top prize; without her as anchor, her three colleagues snagged second-best to Russia. Today, Biles announced she will also abstain from the all-around final, a competition she was almost without question expected to win.

That medical condition, Biles later revealed, was her mental health. Her disclosure elicited widespread encouragement, but also widespread scorn. "Simone Biles is a quitter," said Ben Maller of Fox Sports. "Are 'mental health issues' now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport?" asked British commentator Piers Morgan. "What a joke." UFC fighter Michael Bisping distilled it down in a tweet that generated a heap of positive engagement: "Quitters Never Win."

All told, those criticisms were relatively mild compared to some of the darker corners of American punditry. Simone Biles is a "selfish sociopath" and a "shame to the country," said the right-wing provocateur Charlie Kirk. "What an absolute embarrassment," noted The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh, who prides himself on his Christian commentary. "But in some ways an appropriate representation of a country that has gone soft."

Many others came to her defense. Though Biles simplified it as a mental health issue, the way that manifested, she said, was with the "twisties," a little-known disconnect experienced by some gymnasts where you lose control of your body........

© Reason.com

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