Commentary: The greatness of Simone Biles lives on!

-Photo courtesy of Simone Biles

Commentary: The greatness of Simone Biles lives on!
August 12
10:53 2021

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Sometimes, we get accustomed to greatness. We take it for granted. We have been witnesses to it time and time again.

Such is the case with Simone Biles. Her greatness has been on display for years now, so we in the public square just expect it. For us, our appetites never get enough. We always want more greatness. We want more excellence. Just give us more!

Simone Biles has given the world excellence and she has achieved greatness. The barometer that you use does not matter. She has risen to rarified air, and she has remained there alone.

I believe Simone Biles has been a powerful figure for young girls. Her performances in gymnastics have been breathtaking and gravity defying. What she has shown is that if you stick to it and never give up, you may make it to the Olympics. Dreams plus hard work will always pay off, whatever field you pursue.

Biles has represented the United States of America with dignity, class and grace. She has been nothing short of superb. Simone Biles has been on top and will forever remain on top. The gymnastics mountaintop has only one occupant and that is Simone Biles.

There have been others to achieve great acclaim like Shannon Miller, Gabby Douglas and Kerri Strug. However, none have achieved the status and stature that Simone Biles has.

Some in the critic’s corner will point to this year’s Olympics. Simone Biles decided to forego the competition except for the balance beam. She won the bronze medal in that event. The reasoning behind it, according to Biles, was to focus on her mental health.

I believe we think that people who achieve greatness are sometimes robotic and without feelings. They just turn on a switch or press a button and presto, here comes the honor or the award.

It does not work like that!

Biles said, “It just sucks when you are fighting with your head.” She added, “I was like, I’m not in the right headspace, I’m not going to lose a medal for this country and for these girls because they worked way too hard for me to go out there and have them lose a medal.”

These comments came after the vault in her opening rotation. She knew when to stop. This self-awareness is a part of what makes Simone Biles a champion.

Her teammates and those who mattered supported her decision to withdraw from the competition.

Biles and tennis star Naomi Osaka have been at the forefront to talk about the importance of mental health. Osaka, a multiple Grand Slam winner, said, “It’s OK to not be OK, and it’s OK to talk about it.”

Mental health struggles affect us in all types of jobs. In a survey done last year, 80% of workers said they would consider another job that had better support for mental well-being.

Michael A. Lindsey, a mental health researcher said, “There’s this overall sort of ethic in our society around grinning and bearing it, taking it on the chin.”

This notion is finally coming to an end as more people are speaking up and talking about this important topic.

Simone Biles is a decorated champion with four Olympic gold medals and 19 world championship titles. She also has four elements in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Code of Points named in her honor.

When asked recently about the next Olympics, she has left the door open. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Whether she competes again will obviously be entirely up to her. Let’s just be happy, be elated that we had the chance to watch her perform. 

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at

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