TOKYO (AP) – Simone Biles blocked the landing.
The American gymnastics superstar won bronze in the balance beam final on Tuesday, a week after retiring from several competitions to focus on her sanity.
Biles won her seventh career Olympic medal – tied with Shannon Miller for most by an American in gymnastics – performing a slightly watered-down version of her usual routine in front of a crowd that included IOC President Thomas Bach.
Biles, using a double pike exit – no twist required – posted a score of 14,000. It was good enough for bronze behind the Chinese duo of gold medalist Guan Chenchen (14.633) and Tang Xijing (14.233).
Olympic all-around champion Sunisa Lee of the United States was fifth. Lee, 18, won three medals in Tokyo, including silver in the team final and bronze on uneven bars.
Biles arrived on the ground approximately 90 minutes before the start of the competition, wearing a red, white and blue leotard adorned with nearly 5,000 crystals. If she was nervous, it barely showed. She warmed up like it was just another day back in the gym her family owns in the northern suburbs of Houston. Twice she jumped onto the beam to take a look at her routine and planted her double pike exit to the applause of the stands and the purring of dozens of cameras.
Biles arrived in Tokyo as the face of the US contingent in Japan and possibly the Games themselves. Still, the shine she so easily relied on for so long during her run to the top of the sport came undone after qualifying on July 25.
She jumped out of her trunk in the first rotation of the team final on July 27, then withdrew from the competition surprisingly as a protective measure as she struggled to locate herself in the air. She later described the phenomenon as “the twisties” and then retired from uneven bars, floor exercises and vault finals.
The decision amplified the increased attention to the importance of mental health in sport in general and among Olympians in particular. Add it to the growing list of moves that 24-year-old Biles has become a touchstone for during his rise to stardom.
She has spent the last week continuing to train and be evaluated by team doctor Dr Marcia Faustin while also serving as the lead cheerleader for an American women’s team that has amassed some serious material. in his absence.
Lee became the fifth consecutive American woman to win the all-around title and added a bronze medal on uneven bars. MyKayla Skinner, placed in the jump final after Biles scratched, soared to silver. On Monday, Jade Carey’s long trip to the Olympics ended in a victory on floor after Biles gave her a pep talk following a nightmarish performance on the vault in which she tripped at the end off the track and narrowly avoided a serious injury.
His return to competition on the beam ended his Olympic experience. She won bronze in the event in Brazil five years ago thanks in part to bending down to grab the 4-inch piece of wood after slipping. The decision cost her gold but secured her a fifth medal and, in retrospect, the one of which she says she is most proud.
Although she has not officially announced her retirement – she has hinted that she might want to stay one way or another until the Paris 2024 Games to honor coaches Laurent and CÃ©cile Landi, who are both French – a long layoff awaits him. She is headlining a post-Olympic tour in the fall, but recently pointed out that she plans to stay close to the sport.
If Tuesday night was her official goodbye, she did it on her terms. Just as she did for most of an elite eight-year career that pushed the boundaries of gymnastics and saw it achieve the kind of crossover success typically reserved for sprinters like Usain Bolt and swimmers. like Michael Phelps.