The Olympian was named alongside actress Sandra Oh, singer Dolly Parton and multiple U.S. teachers.
Simone Biles told People that the conversation was long overdue, and she was happy to see other athletes open up about their own mental health struggles.
“It’s kind of sad that we didn’t think we had that opportunity or that ability to do so before and put our mental health first,” she said in her interview. “But to see them put their mental health first is really exciting.”
Biles also reflected on her testimony alongside other gymnasts in the Larry Nassar trial. She said the situation is still triggering for her but she’s proud to encourage other victims to speak out.
“I think that speaking at Congress helped so much and I think that we were so powerful when we did it. But people forget how traumatic it is for us,” said Biles. “Just knowing I’m helping other people speak out and be comfortable with that is very rewarding.”
Simone Biles is one of several who have been named as People of the Year for 2021. Country singer Dolly Parton was honored for her Imagination Library, which has given more than 160 million books to kids. She also donated $1 million for COVID research that led to the Moderna vaccine.
People Magazine also spotlighted teachers for their “unbelievably inspiring” resilience throughout the pandemic. They selected three teachers to represent “3 million-plus classroom heroes,” including National Teacher of the Year, Julianna Urtubey.