Simone Biles’ Role in Changing Gymnastics Culture

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Simone Biles, widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, has not only redefined the boundaries of athletic excellence but has also played a pivotal role in transforming the culture of gymnastics. Her influence extends beyond her unparalleled achievements in the sport, impacting issues such as mental health, athlete empowerment, diversity, and safety in gymnastics. This article delves into Simone Biles’ multifaceted role in changing gymnastics culture, examining her contributions and the lasting impact she has made on the sport.

1. Unprecedented Athletic Excellence

Simone Biles’ dominance in gymnastics is unparalleled. With a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, she has set new standards of excellence in the sport. Her signature moves, such as the Biles on floor (a double layout with a half twist) and the Biles on beam (a double-twisting double back dismount), push the boundaries of what was previously thought possible in gymnastics. Her athletic prowess and innovative skills have inspired a new generation of gymnasts to strive for higher levels of difficulty and creativity.

Raising the Bar

Biles’ technical skills and difficulty levels have raised the bar for competitive gymnastics. She consistently performs routines with higher difficulty scores than her competitors, compelling the gymnastics community to reassess the sport’s standards and judging criteria. Her ability to execute complex elements with remarkable precision has prompted changes in the scoring system to better reflect the increased difficulty and execution standards she brings to the sport.

2. Championing Mental Health

One of Simone Biles’ most significant contributions to gymnastics culture is her advocacy for mental health. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Biles made headlines when she withdrew from several events to prioritize her mental well-being. Her decision to step back from competition brought global attention to the pressures and mental health challenges faced by elite athletes.

Breaking the Stigma

By openly discussing her struggles with mental health, Biles has helped break the stigma surrounding mental health issues in sports. She has emphasized the importance of self-care and mental well-being, encouraging athletes to seek help and prioritize their mental health without fear of judgment. Her candidness about her mental health has sparked important conversations about the pressures athletes face and the need for better mental health support in sports.

Changing Perceptions

Biles’ actions have also shifted perceptions of what it means to be a successful athlete. Her courage to prioritize her mental health over competition challenges the traditional notion that athletes must always push through adversity, regardless of the toll it takes on their mental and physical well-being. Biles has demonstrated that true strength lies not only in physical prowess but also in the ability to recognize and address one’s mental health needs.

3. Advocating for Athlete Empowerment

Simone Biles has been a vocal advocate for athlete empowerment, using her platform to speak out on issues affecting gymnasts and athletes in general. She has called for greater transparency, accountability, and support from governing bodies in sports.

Standing Against Abuse

Biles has been a prominent figure in the fight against abuse in gymnastics. She has publicly spoken about her own experiences with sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. By sharing her story, Biles has helped bring attention to the systemic issues within gymnastics that allowed abuse to occur and go unchecked for years. Her advocacy has contributed to increased awareness and reforms aimed at protecting athletes from abuse.

Pushing for Change

Biles has also pushed for changes within USA Gymnastics and other sports organizations to ensure the safety and well-being of athletes. She has called for greater accountability from those in positions of power and has advocated for a culture of transparency and athlete-centered policies. Her efforts have helped drive reforms within USA Gymnastics, including changes in leadership and improved safeguarding measures.

4. Promoting Diversity and Inclusion

As a Black gymnast, Simone Biles has played a crucial role in promoting diversity and inclusion in a sport historically dominated by white athletes. Her success and visibility have inspired greater representation and inclusivity in gymnastics.

Representation Matters

Biles’ achievements have shattered stereotypes and shown that success in gymnastics is not limited by race or background. Her visibility and success have encouraged young athletes from diverse backgrounds to pursue gymnastics, knowing that they too can excel in the sport. Biles’ presence has helped create a more inclusive environment where athletes of all races and backgrounds feel welcomed and supported.

Advocating for Equality

Biles has used her platform to advocate for equality and social justice. She has spoken out on issues such as racial inequality, discrimination, and the need for greater diversity in sports. Her advocacy extends beyond gymnastics, contributing to broader conversations about equality and inclusion in society. Biles’ commitment to social justice aligns with her efforts to create a more equitable and inclusive culture in gymnastics.

5. Inspiring the Next Generation

Simone Biles’ influence extends beyond her immediate impact on gymnastics culture; she has inspired countless young athletes to dream big and pursue their passions. Her journey from a foster care child to the world’s greatest gymnast is a testament to the power of perseverance, dedication, and self-belief.

Role Model

Biles serves as a role model for aspiring gymnasts and athletes worldwide. Her story of overcoming adversity and achieving greatness resonates with young athletes who face their own challenges. Biles’ success has shown that with hard work, determination, and a supportive environment, they too can reach the pinnacle of their sport.

Encouraging Participation

Biles’ visibility and success have encouraged greater participation in gymnastics, particularly among girls and young women. Her achievements have helped elevate the profile of women’s gymnastics, attracting more young athletes to the sport. Biles’ influence extends beyond gymnastics, inspiring young people to pursue their goals with passion and resilience.

6. Lasting Legacy

Simone Biles’ contributions to gymnastics culture will have a lasting legacy. Her impact on mental health advocacy, athlete empowerment, diversity, and inclusion will continue to shape the sport for years to come. Biles has set a new standard for what it means to be a successful and influential athlete, demonstrating that true greatness encompasses both athletic excellence and the courage to drive positive change.

Future Directions

Biles’ legacy will continue to influence future generations of gymnasts and athletes. As the sport evolves, the principles she has championed—mental health, athlete empowerment, diversity, and safety—will remain integral to the culture of gymnastics. Biles’ influence will inspire ongoing efforts to create a more supportive, inclusive, and equitable environment for all athletes.

Honoring Her Contributions

The gymnastics community and sports organizations must continue to honor and build upon Biles’ contributions. This includes ongoing support for mental health initiatives, safeguarding measures, and diversity and inclusion efforts. By recognizing and addressing the issues Biles has highlighted, the gymnastics community can ensure that her legacy endures and continues to inspire positive change.


Simone Biles has played a transformative role in changing gymnastics culture. Her unparalleled athletic achievements have set new standards of excellence, while her advocacy for mental health, athlete empowerment, diversity, and safety has driven significant cultural shifts within the sport. Biles’ influence extends beyond gymnastics, inspiring broader conversations about mental health, equality, and the importance of athlete-centered policies.

As a trailblazer and role model, Biles has shown that true greatness encompasses both athletic excellence and the courage to drive positive change. Her legacy will continue to shape the future of gymnastics, ensuring that the sport evolves to become more supportive, inclusive, and equitable for all athletes. Simone Biles’ impact on gymnastics culture is profound and enduring, and her contributions will be celebrated for generations to come.

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