Despite Kidney Stones & USA Gymnastics Chaos, Biles Is Leading Fearlessly

The tweet seemed to come out of nowhere. At 3:12 PM on Oct. 26, Simone Biles tweeted out a smiling photo of herself. While that would normally be a cause for alarm, the photo was of her laying in a hospital bed and these words along with it:

“nothing like a late-night ER visit less than 24 hrs before world championships,” Biles tweeted. “this kidney stone can wait.... doing it for my team! I’ll be gucci girls.”

Yes, one of the most accomplished gymnasts in the world was dealing with kidney stones just days before the start of the 2018 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Yet, the fact someone as accomplished and as Biles is enduring the pain of kidney stones to make sure she would be at the World Championships says all their needs to be said about how seriously she takes being a leader on Team USA.

“Here I am a veteran, so I'm excited to go out there and lead them and hopefully make them excited about performing at their first World's for some of them,” Biles said. “I guess just being a veteran is just a little bit different than my other World championships.”

The women’s world championships tipped off Saturday and on her first day she had a vault named after her called “The Biles.” Her total score of 60.965 was one of the highest of the years.

"It hurts to stand and do some of the movement, " Biles said after the first day of competition at the press conference. "But I think adrenaline helped out there. Without my teammates I don't I would have the confidence to go out there and do the routines I did tonight. So, I am really excited and happy that I did it because I am here for the team."

Joining Biles on Team USA are Morgan Hurd, Kara Eaker, Grace McCallum, Riley McCusker, and Ragan Smith. They are seeking to win their fourth straight title.

While the team features many decorated gymnasts, they don’t compare to the resume Biles has been able to put together over her career. Biles is looking to become the first female gymnast to win four all-around titles at the World Championships with the entire sport focusing on her.

“I feel like whenever we go out and compete, I try not to focus on who all's watching or what's happening,’ Biles said. “We kind of just focus on gymnastics and relate to the training. So I can't really say. I know a lot of people, especially during the Olympic year, tune in to watch gymnastics because it's such an exciting sport. But I guess it is crazy how we bring more attention because of how well we do during competitions and in the attention that we bring.”

But the Biles that entered the World Championships is light years away from the teenager that sprang onto the national scene during the 2016 Olympics.

Now, as a 21-year-old, Biles is easily the most recognizable face in gymnastics today. That pretty much goes without saying.

But what is becoming more and more evident is that Biles is now one of the most recognizable female athletes in the world.

However, unlike many athletes who gain a certain level of popularity and prestige, Biles doesn’t keep her opinions to herself. Whether it concerns women in sports or USA Gymnastics, the Springs, Texas, native will speak up when she feels the need.

“You kind of have to stand up for what you believe in,” Biles said.

Biles recognizes her profile is bigger than most in the sport and always has eyes on her. But she said she doesn’t let that affect how she performs or acts.

“I think it comes from your personality and just growing up in the sport and being taught to focus on what you're doing,” Biles said. “And I think it's also a personality trait that I just have had since I was younger. I try not to focus too much.”

Biles said during the World Championships she is going to focus strictly on helping Team USA. But after that, she will resume speaking out on topics such she cares about.

But that hasn't stopped Biles' teammates from talking about her and what her presence means to them. 

"She’s the greatest of all time," Hurd said. "We all want to catch her so we’re just trying our absolute best."

Michael Kinney is a freelance content provider who handles sports, news, entertainment, culture, and lifestyles. You can find him on TwitterInstagram, and on his blog.

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