Simone Biles Returns: A Symbol of Progress and Change in Gymnastics Culture

Simone Biles Rio 2016e


“Breaking Stereotypes: Simone Biles’ Comeback Marks a Shift in Gymnastics Culture, Emphasizing Power and Athleticism over Traditional Expectations.”

Star gymnast Simone Biles is making her comeback in the US Classic this weekend after a hiatus since experiencing “the twisties” during the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021, which led her to withdraw from multiple events. Her return has been kept under wraps until recently, and she now asserts that she can twist without any issues. Scores from an untelevised national training camp suggest she might be back to her exceptional form, even attempting the never-before-done Yurchenko double-pike vault.

Beyond her return to the sport, there is an additional reason to be enthusiastic: Biles’ comeback is a testament to the potential end of gymnastics’ old culture, which often subjected athletes to cruel and strange treatment, particularly regarding body image. Gymnasts in the past, especially female gymnasts, were under constant pressure to preserve a childish body and to strictly restrict their meals. As gymnasts need a good strength-to-weight ratio to perform at their best, the focus has now switched to strength and power.

simone biles rio

Image Credit: Wikipedia

The pressure to keep a tiny frame has been not demonstrated to be long-term beneficial, in addition to being abusive and hazardous to athletes’ health.The female athlete triad, which can cause menstrual abnormalities, poor energy levels, and reduced bone density, can put athletes at risk for significant accidents. Thankfully, there is increased understanding of the significance of nutrition and good growth, and some coaches have embraced weight training and a nutritious diet to enhance the lifespan of their players.

Biles’ return is significant not only for her impressive skills but also because she challenges the traditional notion that female gymnasts should be teenagers with short careers. Alongside her, other gymnasts like Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles, both in their twenties, are defying the old stereotypes and excelling in the sport with a focus on strength and athleticism.

While some officials in the gymnastics world still seem to emphasize thinness, there has been a positive shift in attitudes, with gymnasts now expressing body pride and empowerment, enabled by social media and greater exposure to the outside world. This signifies a progressive change in the sport, where athletes can celebrate their bodies and focus on their skills and performance without being subjected to body shaming or outdated expectations.

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