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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Biles deserves praise going beyond medals

by Wally Hall | July 29, 2021 at 2:40 a.m.

Most of us have no reason to give it a moment's thought.

Especially yours truly.

Yet, it has to be very difficult to have a normal life while the world looks at you through a microscope because you have been labeled the greatest at something.

Simone Biles openly admitted she was not emotionally prepared for the rigors of the 2021 Olympics.

The defending Olympic gold medalist in the all-around competition walked off the mat Tuesday and later said she had some mental-health issues.

It had been obvious Sunday something wasn't right when she had major mistakes in most of her preliminary events.

On Tuesday, after a vault when she took a very large and point-deducting step after her landing, she quit.

Before you could say she quit on her team, she was back on the floor. But this time she was in warm-ups cheering for her teammates.

Without her, the USA earned the silver medal instead of an expected gold.

There was speculation she might still compete in the all-around competition, but she ended that Wednesday with the announcement she will continue to focus on her mental health.

If she had tried to overcome those issues on her own and competed it would not have looked good for her professionally.

Now, with the admission of her issues, all of America should say thanks.

We may not have ever endured the pressure of being the best, but we appreciate that she brought Olympic glory to the USA.

* * *

The week after next, David Bazzel and Simmons Bank will announce the speaker lineup for this fall's Little Rock Touchdown Club luncheons.

The luncheons are always a fun time.

In all of the years of the LRTDC, my daughter, Whitney, has attended just one luncheon.

It was the day Bob Stoops, the former Oklahoma football head coach, spoke.

She grew up divided between the Sooners and the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Her mom's side of the family is from Oklahoma, and hopefully you know where her dad's family is from.

Stoops, who had been tipped off about Whitney's presence, stepped off the podium before he was introduced and asked whether she wanted a picture together.

Her smile lit the room up. She still has the framed copy somewhere.

She's not thrilled that OU is coming to the SEC because now her two favorite teams will have to play each other.

As for the LRTDC, Bazzel promises that somehow, someway, this is going to be the best year. Somehow, someway, he has delivered on that every year.

* * *

Back in the 1980s, yours truly covered the Arkansas Razorback basketball team in a tournament in Japan.

I've never forgotten something Eddie Sutton said during the tour, which included six games in five cities over about a week.

Each day in one of the cities he and his staff had to give a two-hour coaching clinic. There were coaches from all over the world attending.

Sutton said they filmed every session from every possible angle. They asked countless questions about fundamental basketball and strategies.

He said the world is tired of the USA dominating basketball, and the foreign coaches were going to teach more than shooting and rebounding.

Sutton was right.

There are great players in the NBA from countries who thought basketball was an outdoor game in the 1980s.

While the USA is still favored to win the gold, the team's opening loss to France was not a fluke.

France is a very talented and fundamentally sound basketball team, and there are others from around the world.

The USA will have to earn the gold the hard way, by outplaying its opponents.

Print Headline: Biles deserves praise going beyond medals

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