Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is opening up about the time a coach slammed her body.
The athlete detailed the story in her new book, “Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance.” During a competition in 2013, Biles had not been performing very well. She overheard heard a coach – whose name she didn’t reveal – say, “You know why she crashed? Because she’s too fat, that’s why. How does she expect to compete like that?”
While speaking to People magazine, Biles reflected on the way she felt upon hearing the harsh words.
“It was really hard,” the 19-year-old said. “Because growing up, I never felt overweight or fat, so it shocked me like, ‘Why would he say that?’ But in a way it actually shaped me for the better because it just taught me to rise above and to love my body, no matter what. Nobody could tell me what to do.”
Biles expounded on the story while promoting her book, out now, on NBC’s Today Show Nov. 16.
“I dismissed myself from the floor so nobody could see me and I walked to the back behind the curtains and I was crying,” she said.
Then, team coordinator Martha Karolyi provided a pep talk that gave Biles some encouragement. Still, thinking about what the coach said remains painful for Biles.
“It gets a little overwhelming, these memories are brought up and it makes me sad,” she said. “But I was born with my body for a reason and I’m using it to compete in the sport that I love.”
The gymnast also noted her fellow Final Five U.S. Olympic teammates – Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Madison Kocian – have discussed criticisms of their bodies with one another.
“We’ll talk about it because we’re all going through the exact same thing,” Biles said. “But we’re all born with unique types of bodies, and we’ve proved that you can have any type of body and be good.”