Back in action! Simone Biles won the bronze medal in the individual balance beam competition on Tuesday, August 3, after taking a step back during her other solo Tokyo Olympics events amid mental health concerns.
With a score of 14.000, the athlete, 24, finished behind China’s Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing. The gold medalist, 16, and silver medalist, 18, scored 14.633 and 14.233, respectively.
USA Gymnastics confirmed Biles’ return to the gym on Monday, August 2, following her departure after a rocky performance on the vault during the team competition one week prior.
“We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!!” the organization tweeted at the time. “Can’t wait to watch you both!”
The Courage to Soar author shocked fans when she stepped back midway through the team finals on July 27. “After that vault, I was like: ‘I’m not in the right headspace, I’m not going to lose a medal for this country and for these girls,’ because they worked way too hard for me to go out there and have them lose a medal,” Biles said during a press conference.
She later revealed that she experienced the twisties, which happens when an athlete loses control of their body while spinning in the air, during her solo vault.
“I didn’t have a bad performance & quit,” Biles wrote via Instagram on Thursday, July 29. “I’ve had plenty of bad performances throughout my career and finished the competition. I simply got so lost [that] my safety was at risk as well as a team medal. … I also have no idea how I landed on my feet on that vault bc if you look at the pictures & my eyes you can see how confused I am as to where I am in the air.”
The Texas-based Olympian subsequently withdrew from the all-around competition, where fellow Team USA teammate Sunisa “Suni” Lee won the gold. Biles continued to be evaluated daily before dropping out of the individual vault, uneven bars and floor events.
However, the athlete was in attendance for every rotation and cheered on her teammates as they vied for medals. MyKayla Skinner filled in for Biles on the vault after earning a high enough score during the qualifying rounds, and competed alongside Jade Carey on Sunday, August 1.
Biles’ coach, Cecile Canqueteau-Landi, told reporters on Tuesday that she was “the best cheerleader,” saying, “She wanted to be here, she wasn’t forced. That was her own will to be here, and she was really proud of all of them.”
Skinner, 24, won the silver meda on Sundayl, while Carey, 21, finished in eighth place. Lee, 18, took home the bronze on the uneven bars, and was the only U.S. gymnast with a high enough qualifying score to compete. Carey later had her moment in the sun, winning the gold medal on floor on Monday.
Before coming to Tokyo, Biles had four gold medals and one bronze, which she earned at the 2016 Rio Games. She took home a silver medal as part of the 2020 Tokyo team win.
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