Simone Biles took the bronze medal in the balance beam final, finishing her run in the Tokyo Olympic games, which came with complications causing her to withdraw from multiple gymnastics events last week after competing in just one event amid the USA women's team final.
Despite missing four finals, Biles, 24, returned having overcome the “twisties,” a mental block that left her unable to determine her midair position, posting a score of 14.00, earning a second bronze in the event, the second since winning it in 2016 at the Rio games.
She shared the podium with China’s Guan Chenchen who scored 14.63, and Tang Xijing Tag, with 14.23.
“I was just happy to be able to perform regardless of the outcome,” Biles told reporters. “I did it for me and I was happy to be able to compete one more time.”
Last week, Biles withdrew from the team competition after just a single vault attempt. After the stumble in the vault, she chose to fall back rather than risk the team’s overall performance. The Russian Olympic Committee went on to win the gold medal, while Team USA took silver.
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On Instagram, Biles later said: "For anyone saying I quit. I didn't quit, my mind & body are simply not in sync as you can see here. I don't think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface nor do I have to explain why I put health first."
Biles had also withdrawn from Thursday night's all-around competition, but cheered as her teammate Suni Lee who went on to win a gold medal. “It just means a lot to me for all of them to be here cheering for me,” Lee said. “It sucks that I couldn’t have Simone on the floor with me, but just to even have her in the arena was very helpful because she is an inspiration to me and someone that I look up to.”
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Like many athletes in every sport, Biles faced mental and physical challenges to her peak performance and made the decision to prioritize her health as well as keeping the welfare of her team in mind. Dominique Dawes, who won gold for Team USA at the 1996 games in Atlanta explained why this was a wise decision.
“As a 15-year-veteran in gymnastics, I went through a great deal of mental block,” Dawes told BET.com in an interview. “It's very scary, and to have to fight through that during an Olympic Games would be quite challenging.”
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With seven Olympic gymnastics medals, she now ties Sharon Miller for the most in U.S. history. But she has not determined whether or not she will retire from the Olympics, or if she will give it another try at the Paris games in 2024.
"I need to process this first," Biles said. "It was a lot."