Simone Biles showed the power of resisting expectations, our columnist writes.

By Kurt Streeter


What a small and simple word.

What transformative power it possesses.

Simone Biles used it to ultimate effect at the Tokyo Olympics this week.

“Today it’s like, you know what, no,” she said, explaining to reporters her decision to withdraw from the team gymnastics competition to protect her mental and physical health.

It was a “no” that shook the Olympics and put the sports world on notice. It also showed that athlete empowerment, a hallmark for this era in sports, continues to develop and grow. Athletes are more than ready to stand up now, not only for social justice but also for themselves.

Biles is the greatest, most decorated gymnast of all time. She won four gold medals in Rio five years ago and was expected to take home at least three more in Tokyo. But by saying “no,” bowing out this week, and standing up for her well-being in a sports world that commodifies athletes and prizes winning at all costs, she surpasses all of those achievements in importance.

Biles has thrown a wrench in the system. What that “no” says is really this: Enough is enough.

This was an act of individual resistance, putting up a firm wall between herself and the glaring burden of competition.

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