NAPLES, Italy – Four-time Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles earned Time magazine’s “Athlete of the Year” honour, the publication said.
The 24-year-old gymnast traveled to the Tokyo Games this year with the intent of rewriting the recordbooks but instead brought about a groundbreaking, global conversation around athletes’ mental well-being.
She dropped out of the opening event in Tokyo, citing concerns for her mental health and a case of the “twisties,” a frightening and dangerous form of mental disorientation while completing one of her gravity-defying feats.
She later returned to the competition, winning a bronze medal on the balance beam after earning the support of her fellow athletes in gymnastics and beyond.
“It showed us that we are more than the sport, that we are human beings who also can have days that are hard,” her teammate, Sunisa Lee, told Time according to Reuters. “It really humanized us.”
Colin Kaepernick praises Biles’ “grace, eloquence and courage.”
“Simone Biles has used her remarkable position as the world’s greatest gymnast ever to inspire a long-overdue global conversation on mental health,” Kaepernick, a former National Football League player, told TIME.
“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.”