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Part of the reason the cost of losing at the Olympics is so much higher for women is that they’re not merely trying to prove they’re the best; they’re trying to prove to their governing bodies back home that they are worth the investment. These women shoulder the responsibility of keeping their sports alive in a country that constantly devalues them. For women’s soccer, for example, a gold medal is an accolade as well as a formidable piece of evidence in the ongoing fight for equal pay.

This pressure pushes women athletes beyond their limits. Take the great Kerri Strug, who famously competed at the 1996 Olympics after injuring her ankle on her first vault attempt then landed it, on one leg, on the second. Some have suggested that, like Strug, Biles simply needed to muscle through whatever was happening and perform her routine. But if you pause for a moment and watch the footage of Strug after she finished her vault you’ll notice she’s being helped off the mat by her coach, Bela Károlyi, who is accused of psychologically abusing the women he trained, and by the team’s doctor at the time, Larry Nassar, who is serving time for sexually abusing more than 150 young women and girls. Strug did not endure her abuse in silence just so that the women who came after her could be forced to do the same.

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Gymnasts don’t get to have off days. If they’re not fully present and focused for even a moment in their routines they could do irreparable damage to their bodies and when they’re broken what does their sport do for them? It pushes them to the side and puts their leotard on the next girl in the rotation. Conventional wisdom says that a single wrong move can end a gymnast’s career or, even worse, their life.

Biles should not be judged or ridiculed for refusing to be eaten alive by her sport. She made an unimaginably difficult decision when she chose to put her mental and physical well-being over a gold medal. But as much as her critics may want to convince her otherwise, she doesn’t need another medal to prove herself; her achievements are already written in stone.