When Simone Biles stepped onto the podium after winning her fifth U.S. women’s gymnastics title Sunday, she was sharing her win with fellow survivors of sexual abuse. Wearing a leotard she designed herself, Biles, who was among the more than 160 victims of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, strategically chose to wear the light turquoise that is the designated color for sexual abuse survivors.
While the USA Gymnastic organization has struggled to make consistent and sufficiently compassionate statements to support survivors, The Los Angeles Times reports that Biles decided to make a statement by wearing the hue eight months prior to her first post-Olympic appearance.
“I kind of thought I’d be a nervous wreck and maybe fall apart,” Biles told the L.A. Times. “Going into these events, I kept telling my family, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to calm myself down the way I did before and handle the nerves.’ But so far, so good.”
Biles did far better than “good”; after her “comeback” competition, she’s now the second woman in history to win nationals five times, and the first to win five all-around titles, earning an all-around score of 60.1. And she did it all while honoring the strength and spirit of survivors like herself.
“[The color] is for the survivors,” Biles said. “I stand with all of them and I think it’s kind of special to unite [people].”