TIME Magazine respects Simone Biles as Athlete of the Year.

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According to Time Magazine, the “Athlete of The Year” isn’t Super Bowl champion Tom Brady or gold medal-winning gymnast Suni Lee, but Simone Biles, who paradoxically earns the award for not participating.

Time’s choice of the 24- year-old, four-time Olympic gold medallist as the recipient of the prestigious prize has sparked debate (see Twitter).

Biles, of course, withdrew out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to mental health difficulties, including the “Twisties” — a condition in which a gymnast becomes disoriented in the air (which is perilous when tumbling in the air) — which forced her to withdraw.

“I have to focus on my mental health and not risk my health and well-being,” Biles said at the time, revealing that she was seeing a therapist to help her face her “demons,” adding, “I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.”

Biles’ efforts to raise awareness about mental health were lauded by fellow athletes and fans around the country. However, there are many who believe Biles abandoned her team and nation, and that there is nothing to celebrate.

Suni Lee, a teammate who was recently voted “Athlete of The Year” by Sports Illustrated (together with swimmer Caeleb Dressel), is firmly on the side of those who believe Biles has permanently changed sports.

“What Simone did changed the way we view our well-being, 100%. It showed us that we are more than the sport, that we are human beings who also can have days that are hard. It really humanized us.”

Story by : Norvisi Mawunyegah