Simone Biles Named 1 of People Magazine's 2021 People of the Year

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 2, 2021

Simone Biles arrives at the InStyle Awards at The Getty Center on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

American gymnast Simone Biles was among the honorees for People magazine's People of the Year for 2021.

The outlet said Biles "redefined what it means to win in sports and "changed the way we think about athletes' mental health."

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

.<a href="https://twitter.com/Simone_Biles?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Simone_Biles</a> graces the cover of <a href="https://twitter.com/people?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@people</a> as one of the magazine's 2021 People of the Year 🧡<a href="https://twitter.com/OnHerTurf?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OnHerTurf</a> (📸 via <a href="https://twitter.com/people?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@people</a>, Phylicia J. L. Munn) <a href="https://t.co/AJpWLxxP2R">pic.twitter.com/AJpWLxxP2R</a>

The 24-year-old carried massive expectations on her shoulders heading into the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. She won four gold medals in 2016 and built a resume to make her arguably the greatest gymnast ever.

Biles briefly withdrew from Team USA in the middle of the Olympics, citing the strain it was placing on her mental health, which in turn affected her performance. Having earned a silver in the team competition before withdrawing, she returned for the balance beam and won bronze.

Biles later told The Cut's Camonghne Felix she didn't think she should've competed in the Olympics at all in retrospect. She was among the many victims of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, and that influenced her decision to continue along a qualifying track.

"I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was too much," she said. "But I was not going to let him take something I've worked for since I was six years old. I wasn't going to let him take that joy away from me."

During the Olympics and in the aftermath of the event, Biles served to underscore the importance of maintaining one's mental health and knowing when to take a step back.