Simone Biles' Aunt Dies Amid Tokyo Olympics
Simone Biles and her family experienced a tragedy amid the Tokyo Olympics. Following the 24-year-old gymnast’s bronze medal win in the balance beam finals on Tuesday, she told reporters that her paternal aunt “unexpectedly passed” just two days prior, according to People.
The outlet reports that Biles’ coach, Cecile Canqueteau-Landi, told reporters that, upon hearing the news of the gymnast’s aunt’s death, she thought, “Oh my god. This week needs to be over.”
“I asked her, ‘What do you need?’ And she said, ‘I just need some time,'” Canqueteau-Landi recalled. “I said, ‘You call me, text me if you need anything. I’ll be here. Whatever that is.'”
According to Biles’ coach, the gymnast called her parents after learning the news, and ultimately decided to stay in Tokyo for the competition.
“She said, ‘There’s nothing I can do from over here. So I’m just going to finish my week and when I get home we’ll deal with it,'” Canqueteau-Landi said of Biles.
The death in Biles’ family came amid an already challenging time for the gymnast, who pulled out of the team finals, individual all-around competition, and every event final except the beam due to a struggle with “the twisties.”
On her Instagram Story, Biles described the twisties as “the craziest feeling ever” where you are not able to “tell up from down” or know where you’re going to land.
After Biles’ exit, the US team won the silver medal in its competition, Suni Lee won gold in the individual all-around, MyKayla Skinner won silver in the vault final, and Jade Carey won gold in the floor competition.
“We’ve had a lot of tears combined because as much as we’re happy for Team USA, in the back, it was a little heartbreaking to know that she could’ve been out there and she could’ve, hopefully, earned some medals as well,” Canqueteau-Landi said. “But she was the best cheerleader. She wanted to be here, she wasn’t forced. That was her own will to be here and she was really proud of all of them.”
Biles was proud of herself, too, after earning her bronze medal, telling Today’s Hoda Kotb that it “means more than all of the golds because I have pushed through so much the last five years and the last week while I’ve even been here.”
“I feel like it’s still kind of a whirlwind. I don’t get to embrace it yet, but I’m just proud I could go out there and compete one more time before the Olympics was over,” she said. “… It was very emotional, and I’m just proud of myself and all of these girls, as well.”
Watch the video below for more on Biles.
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