"A funny story: people think they know me," wrote Simone Biles a few days ago on her Instagram channel.

Behind it, she puts a gray heart, and she posts a selfie.

More than 300,000 people like this post.

But apparently many still don't know: So who is Simone Biles?

Michael Wittershagen

Responsible for sports in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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There are the facts: She is the most successful gymnast in history.

Biles, just 1.42 meters tall and 50 kilograms, won gold four times at the Olympic Games, secured 19 titles at world championships, created four gymnastics elements named after her and has been the face of this sport for almost a decade.

And there is her contribution to another world: in early 2018, Biles took the lead in the MeToo movement when she made public that she was one of hundreds of women abused by Larry Nassar, the former team doctor of American gymnasts.

She later campaigned for Black Lives Matter and protested the oppression of blacks.

Shadows over the World Gymnastics Championships

How is it possible to combine both? The answer was given by Simone Biles at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. In the final of the team all-around competition, she made a mistake at the jump, broke off her competition and then described the immense pressure that was on her: “I say that mental health comes first. So sometimes it's okay to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself. It shows how strong you really are as a competitor and person, instead of just fighting your way through. "

Athletes' heads are no longer taboo. In addition to Biles, the Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka and the American skateboarder Nyjah Huston also spoke about mental problems this year. So Simone Biles is also: a role model. Last week, eight weeks after the Olympic Games, the Japanese city of Kitakyüshü hosted the World Gymnastics Championships. But there was a shadow over the event.

In addition to other stars, Simone Biles was also missing.

Instead, the twenty-four-year-old is doing gymnastics at the other end: more than 10,000 kilometers as the crow flies and fourteen time zones from Japan.

"Gold Over America Tour" is the name of her gymnastics show that takes her and others all over the United States.

The tour started in Tucson, Arizona at the end of September and will end in Boston in November.

32 stations, 32 appearances.

Mental health discussion

She had the idea for it even before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The gymnastics show made by Biles is different from anything that has existed before. She uses dancers, builds LED boards into the program - and she tells a story that is aimed primarily at young girls and wants one thing: to convey strength. "It's really important to instill this confidence and character in them at a young age so that they can feel more comfortable as adults and speak more confidently about certain things they are struggling with," Biles told USA Today.

She also receives help from her advertising partner Athleta, for whom she even left Nike, the world's largest sports equipment supplier, shortly before the Olympic Games. Back then, Biles announced via Instagram that she wanted to work with a brand that “shares her passion for helping girls develop”. In addition, Athleta is committed to “diversity and inclusion” and therefore stands for “everything I believe in”. How will things go after the tour? Biles isn't sure. She says she wants to fuel the mental health discussion, spend more time with her family and friends, and take a break. At least one year, as she did after the 2016 Rio Games.

She does not rule out a comeback with a view to the Games in Paris in 2024.

But she now knows that this competition isn't everything either: “Tokyo wasn't what I wanted, but I think it meant more to me that I had such an experience.

It brought out the strength and courage in me, ”she says.

That too is part of her story: Simone Biles is more than a gymnast, bigger than the sport.

In Japan, at the World Cup, they were missed.

But it doesn't give the impression that something was missing.