Simone Biles on 2020 Tokyo Olympics: "I Thought I Was Going to Be Banned From America"

"I thought I was going to be banned from America," Simone Biles said in April 2024. "They tell you: 'Don't come back if it's not gold.'"

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Jul. 1 2024, Published 9:52 a.m. ET

Simone Biles smiles after competing in the Women's Balance Beam Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on August 3, 2021.
Source: Getty Images

Following an impressive showing at the U.S. Olympic trials, Simone Biles — one of the greatest gymnasts of all time — is officially heading to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris! On Sunday, June 30, she was among five women named to Team USA.

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Ahead of the upcoming games, Simone noted that this version of the gymnastics team is more powerful than the one at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If you recall, Simone faced many difficulties during those games. Want to know more about what happened? Keep scrolling for a trip down memory lane.

Simone Biles competes in the Women's Balance Beam Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on August 3, 2021.
Source: Getty Images
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What happened to Simone Biles in the Tokyo Olympics?

During the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where Simone Biles was expected to secure at least four of the six available gold medals, she withdrew from most of the competition due to significant mental health challenges.

"I just don't trust myself as much as I used to," Simone sadly told reporters in Tokyo, per CNN. "I'm a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I'm also not having as much fun."

After her qualifying performance, the four-time Olympic gold medalist took to Instagram and shared that she was "[feeling] the weight of the world on [her] shoulders." Simone also pointed out that the pressure of the Olympics was severely impacting her.

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Simone Biles gets ready to compete in the Women's Gymnastics Balance Beam Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on August 3, 2021.
Source: Getty Images

Simone later explained that her withdrawal stemmed primarily from experiencing "the twisties," a psychological phenomenon where gymnasts lose their air awareness during twisting elements, despite having successfully executed them many times before.

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She mentioned that while she had experienced the twisties before on vault or floor, this was the first time she encountered them on uneven bars and balance beam.

So, the most decorated gymnast in history decided to withdraw after the first rotation of the team final because she felt she had "simply got so lost [her] safety was at risk as well as a team medal."

Simone thought she would be "banned from America" for her performance.

In April 2024, the gymnast appeared on the popular Call Her Daddy podcast and candidly discussed her experience at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. During her interview with host Alex Cooper, Simone confessed to feeling immense pressure and disappointment after her vault attempt, believing she had let down the entire country.

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"As soon as I landed, I was like, 'Oh, America hates me. The world is going to hate me. I can only see what they're saying on Twitter right now,'" she somberly recounted. "I was like, 'Holy s--t, what are they going to say about me?'"

She added with a heavy heart, "I thought I was going to be banned from America. They tell you: 'Don't come back if it's not gold. It's gold or bust. Don't come back.'"

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