Simone Biles to Return to Olympics for Balance Beam Final - Rolling Stone
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Simone Biles to Return to Olympics for Balance Beam Final

USA Gymnastics champion previously withdrew from last week’s team final, citing the need to prioritize her mental health

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Simone Biles of Team United States applauds teammate Sunisa Lee after winning gold in the Women's All-Around Final on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 29, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Simone Biles will be returning to competition at the Tokyo Olympics for Tuesday’s balance beam final, USA Gymnastics announced on Monday.

The 24-year-old gymnastics star had withdrawn from last week’s team final, citing the need to prioritize her mental health, and subsequently did not compete in the all-around competition or apparatus finals for vault, uneven bars, and floor exercise. Biles later opened up about the pressures of competing at the Olympics on Instagram, writing, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at all times.”

Biles, who remains one of the most high-profile athletes in the world, entered the competition expecting to win up to five gold medals. But, as she explained after her first and only vault appearance at the team final, she stalled midway through due to “a little bit of the twisties” — a gymnastics term for when a gymnast loses her sense of awareness in the air, which can be dangerous in high-level competitions.

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to,” Biles said after the team final. “I don’t know if it’s age. I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun, and I know that this Olympic Games, I wanted it to be for myself. I came here, and I felt like I was still doing it for other people. So that just hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

Biles’ decision to withdraw largely received support and encouragement on social media, while opening up a greater discussion over athletes prioritizing their mental health as much as their physical wellbeing. Biles tweeted, “the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”


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