Simone Biles Made Her Triumphant Return to the Olympics, Winning Bronze in Balance Beam
"I did it for me and I was happy to be able to compete one more time."
After Simone Biles pulled out of competing alongside her USA gymnastics teammates at the Tokyo Olympics last week to protect her mental health, she made a triumphant return on August 3rd for the final event competition. After USA Gymnastics announced on August 2nd that Biles would compete, she took to the beam the next day and snagged herself a bronze medal.
Biles scored an impressive 14.000 on her beam routine, with only two gymnasts from China besting her. Guan Chenchen scored a 14.633 to win gold and Tang Xijing Tag scored a 14.233 to take silver. Team USA gymnast Suni Lee earned fifth place. Biles’ bronze, though, was her seventh Olympic medal—which ties the record for most Olympic medals won by a U.S. gymnast.
After competing, Biles told reporters, per Yahoo! Sports, “I was just happy to be able to perform regardless of the outcome. I did it for me and I was happy to be able to compete one more time … Training for five years and coming here and kind of being triggered and not being able to do anything wasn’t fun.”
Last week, Biles withdrew from the all-around finals because she needed to “focus on her mental health,” drawing both criticism and praise for her decision. She later told press that she didn’t feel like she was in the right headspace to compete, which could have put her and her teammates in danger.
Later, Biles opened up about the situation on Instagram, explaining her decision to pull out of the competition in more detail. “My mind and body are simply not in sync,” she wrote at the time. “I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.”
After tweaking her balance beam routine, per Yahoo! Sports, Biles clearly felt more comfortable competing—she didn’t have any twists in her choreography that would have thrown her off. Instead, she took out all twists in the air and replaced her dismount with a double pike, which she landed confidently. “The other [events] I couldn’t physically do without putting health and safety at risk because it is twisting,” Biles told reporters. “Beam, I didn’t have that issue.”
The GOAT garnered support from all corners of the world when she chose to prioritize her mental health. Not only did her teammates stand by her, but plenty of other Olympians did as well. Michael Phelps, who is the most decorated Olympian ever, sent his support to Biles, telling Today, “This is an opportunity for all of us to really learn more about mental health, to all help each other out. For me, I want people to be able to have somebody that can support them, who’s non-judgmental and who’s willing to hold space. There’s a lot that we can do to help one another and we have to start. We can’t brush it under the rug anymore.”
Biles’ event is on Tuesday, and it’s great to hear that she’s feeling well enough to hop back into the competition before gymnastics events come to an end at the Olympics. Here’s hoping she can bring home something shiny.