Tonya Russell Critics of Simone Biles’ withdrawing from Olympic events are cruel — and miss the point

In 1996, gymnast Kerri Strug vaulted her way to Olympic victory despite having gravely injured her ankle on her first attempt moments earlier. Anyone following the Olympics has probably seen this highlight, accompanied by the immense praise heaped on her for overcoming adversity and winning the gold for the United States. What I see is Kerri looking stoic, poised — and in pain. Though the crowd erupted in applause afterward, I feel sympathy for the athlete who put her team above her own health. And I feel empathy for Simone Biles, who had to put her health before her team.

Critics want to relegate Biles — who announced Saturday she was skipping at least two individual competitions after pulling out of the team and all-around finals — to being a quitter. They’ve attacked her as a “national embarrassment” and argued she should no longer be able to compete for USA Gymnastics. Not only do such comments seek to erase her hard work, they perpetuate the win-at-all-costs mentality that pushes people over their limits.

As a marathoner, I’ve seen how runners even at the amateur level push themselves to their breaking point even with no Olympic medals at stake. In fact, I’ve done that exact thing, and the outcome stole my love for a sport that was once cathartic and a means of escape.

While I’m not I’m not an elite athlete and never will be, I know now that nobody does themselves a favor by risking injury. In November of 2019, I ran the Philadelphia Marathon after several months of taxing training and exactly one month after spraining my ankle on an uneven sidewalk. This was my second marathon, and though I was cleared by my physical therapist to run the 26.2 mile race, I was ignoring how mentally exhausted I was from the extra training accompanied by the lowkey pain of an injury that I chalked up to weakness.  ReadMore


Source : nbcnews

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