Plagued by Endless Struggles, Simone Biles’ Iconic Statement Acknowledges Rival Rebeca Andrade’s Gymnastics Legacy

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Simone Biles took her first step toward redemption from the ‘Twisties’ trauma by winning the Laureus World Comeback of the Year for 2023. In less than a week, she’s aiming for a full-circle moment, hoping to secure her ticket to the Paris Olympics.

Netflix’s ‘Simone Biles Rising’ unpacks her journey from lowest lows to highest highs: marrying Jonathan Owens, winning the 2023 World All-Around title, and becoming the most decorated gymnast in history. But she’s not the only one making an epic Olympic comeback. Her iconic statement in the series acknowledges rival Rebeca Andrade’s journey, which mirrors her applause-worthy comeback.

On June 19, Simone Biles and Netflix teased ‘Simone Biles Rising.’ The trailer revisited Biles’ challenging moment after her vault rotation in 2021, capturing her grappling with mental blocks and shedding tears. Mixed with glimpses of her childhood, it cut to Biles speaking directly to the camera, bravely admitting it all stemmed from a trauma response. In the snippet, Biles shared her perspective on the journey ahead, acknowledging its length but feeling it wasn’t finished yet; sometimes, she reflected, you’ve got to reclaim that power. Ending on a strong note, Biles declared, “I’m going for another Olympic run. I get to write my own ending.”

This sentiment resonated deeply with a fan named “Becky (@blahblahbeckyyy)” who commented, “”I get to write my own ending” LOVE that. And it feels so fitting not just Simone, but for Rebeca Andrade, for Becky Downie, for Ellie Black, for any of the gymnasts who despite the odds still have more to give, the desire and fight for more. And how lucky we are to see their stories and achievements play out on the World stage ❤️” This comment struck a chord, resonating with over 2500 people, including Simone Biles herself. It stands out because, like Biles, these gymnasts are all on remarkable journeys, paving their way to the Paris Olympics. Let’s start with her biggest competitor on the global stage: Rebeca Andrade.

Rebeca Andrade comes back despite a series of setbacks

Imagine achieving your dream of becoming the first woman from your country to win an Olympic gold medal. For Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, that dream became a reality at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021. Despite battling serious ACL tears in 2015, 2017, and 2019, Andrade didn’t let those setbacks define her journey. By 2023, she had emerged as one of the top contenders in gymnastics, even keeping the legendary Simone Biles on her toes. Working closely with coach Francisco Porath, she strategically picked her competitions, often skipping floor exercises after the 2022 World Championships.

At the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Andrade not only reached the podium for floor exercise but also claimed the vault World Championship title, outshining even Biles. As she prepares for her third Olympic appearance in Paris 2024, Andrade remains focused on giving her all and has said, “I think the main thing is to arrive at the competition, do my best and be very happy. Because the only person I can control is myself. I hope to be able to bring a lot of joy to my country.” Like Simone Biles and Rebeca Andrade, fellow American Suni Lee and two others also embody the resilience encapsulated in the iconic line.

Suni Lee, Becky Downie and Ellie Black

“I could not bend my legs the slightest, I couldn’t squeeze my fingers, my face was swollen. I looked like a completely different person. It was very, very miserable,” shared reigning Olympic all-around champion Suni Lee, who spent most of last year grappling with a kidney disease. Her comeback in 2024 came full circle at the national gymnastics championships after more than a year where she finished fourth overall with strong performances on the uneven bars and balance beam.

After a challenging 2023 battling her health and self-doubt, Lee is now back on track as she prepares for the U.S. Olympic trials in her home state of Minnesota later this month. Her resilience, akin to Simone’s, showcases the fighting spirit that keeps these women going. Like Suni, Simone, and Rebeca, Becky Downie’s return to gymnastics comes after profound struggle and loss.

After making her debut as a teenager at Beijing 2008 and competing in subsequent Olympics, she navigated a tumultuous path. Alongside her sister Ellie, Becky Downie has bravely exposed systemic abuses in the sport, which ultimately led to widespread reforms highlighted by the 2022 Whyte Review in Britain. Despite setbacks like a ruptured Achilles tendon, the loss of her brother Josh, and mental health struggles, Becky made a determined comeback.

She has said, “I don’t think I’d still be here if it wasn’t a strong person. At points, it has felt like an impossible task. Looking back, I think to actually be in this position does feel like a bit of a miracle.” Her focus now extends beyond personal success; Becky is also driven to witness positive changes in gymnastics culture. Selected for her third Olympics in Paris in 2024, she sees this opportunity as a chance to conclude her career on her own terms and, potentially, secure her first Olympic medal.

With eight World Championships and three Olympics under her belt, Ellie Black too has faced tough challenges, especially a nagging ankle injury since Tokyo 2020. Still, she played a pivotal role in Team Canada’s bronze at the 2022 World Championships, securing their Olympic spot. After surgery, she focused on health and readiness for Paris, relieved that the team’s qualification took off some pressure. Training in Australia with Georgia Godwin and later in Texas with Simone Biles, a 23-time world champion, gave Black a supportive environment among elite athletes who understand the grind.

Biles’ example of prioritizing health during Tokyo 2020 was a big inspiration. With Canada’s five-person team set for Paris 2024 after their bronze, Black gears up for her fourth Olympics. Balancing training with self-care—reading, meditation, family time—she’s determined to enjoy the journey amid the chaos of elite sports. At 28, Black leads by example, sharing, “You have to keep fighting and, at the end of the day you just have to focus on you. Shut out all the noise and just move forward.” Reflecting on their journey, it’s clear that these women, much like Simone Biles, are writing their own story.

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