Simone Biles has hardly been out of the headlines during this year – and now she’s achieved something truly momentous.
Yesterday, Biles was announced to have been included in TIME’s iconic “100 Most Influential People” list.
And one the very same day, she proved just why she deserves a spot.
Biles spent the day testifying before congress about how the U.S. justice system failed to stop former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of the team.
Nassar was arrested in 2016, but it wasn’t until 2018 that Biles went public with her story.
Alongside fellow gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Railman, Biles spoke powerfully in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Over the course of my gymnastics career, I have won 25 world championship medals and seven Olympic medals for Team USA,” Biles said. “I am also a survivor of sexual abuse.”
“I believe without a doubt that the circumstances that led to my abuse and allowed it to continue are directly the result of the fact that the organizations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committees failed to do their jobs,” she went on. “… To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.”
“I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured, before, during, and continuing to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse,” she continued.
It’s this strength of character that elevated Biles to the 2021 TIME list.
“She has cemented herself as one of the most decorated American gymnasts of all time. But when she’s not on the mat or competing in front of the world, Simone strikes the powerful balance between humility and confidence,” Serena Williams wrote in her profile of Biles.
”By living her truth so loudly and by championing mental health, she is setting new standards of beauty, strength, and resilience, breaking down today’s image-obsessed stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same.”
“What she embodies truly reflects the endless potential of a Black woman. … Simone is a shining example of what success looks like when you let go of what the world thinks and gather your strength from yourself … from your soul.”