*Unfortunately 16-year-old American gymnast Simone Biles had her proud moment of becoming the first black woman to win a world all-around title this week overshadowed by racist comments.
In Antwerp, Belgium Biles took home the bronze title which prompted Italian gymnast Carlotte Ferlito to go into hater mode. She did a video interview stating, “I told (teammate Vanessa Ferrari) that next time we should also paint our skin black so then we can win, too.”
Biles’ Father, Ron, didn’t appreciate the comments and told USA Today Sports that, “I found it very insulting.” He added, “The racial comment was really out of line.” Ron Biles really found the comments ironic since “normally it’s not in her favor being black, at least not in the world that I live in.” However, he said his daughter has moved on. “She’s not fazed by it,” he said.
On Wednesday USA Gymnastics officials revealed their plan to talk with Italian federation about the incident.
Ferlito took to her Twitter account Tuesday to apologize saying, “I want to apologize with the Americans girls. I didn’t want to sound rude or racist. I love Simone and I’m a huge fan of USA gymnastics.” She added, “I’ve made a mistake, I’m not perfect … I didn’t think about what I was saying. I’m just a human. I’m so so sorry.”
USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny released a statement Wednesday: “The United States is proud of its athletes and the success they achieved at our recent World Championships, especially Simone. who won the all-around title and brought home four medals. USA Gymnastics is disappointed by the recent comments made by Carlotta Ferlito and apparently by the Italian Gymnastics Federation. Gymnastics is a global and inclusive sport with talented athletes, and there is no place for racial insensitivity. We are contacting the Italian federation for clarification on its comments.”
Biles is carrying on with life having flown back home to Texas on Monday. She says by Tuesday afternoon life was back to normal. “The little girls at the gym are freaking out a little bit, saying hi and giving me hugs and stuff, but that’s it,” Biles told USA Today Sports.
Fellow gymnast Gabby Douglas became the first black woman to win the Olympic all-around gold medal and received her own slew of criticism about the way she wore her hair.
“I don’t know where this is coming from,” she said then. “What’s wrong with my hair? I just simply gelled it back, put some clips in it and put it in a bun. Are you kidding me? I just made history. And you’re focusing on my hair? I just want to say, we’re all beautiful inside out. I don’t think people should be worried about that.. Nothing is going to change.”