Simone Biles won bronze in the women’s beam final after retiring from other events at the Tokyo Olympics, citing mental health issues.
The star gymnast received a score of 14,000 on her return to competition, placing her behind Chinese gymnasts Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing. It was the seventh Olympic medal for Biles, tying it the most to Shannon Miller for an American gymnast.
“I wasn’t expecting a medal,” Biles told reporters after receiving bronze. “I just got here and just tried to make a good set of beams … so just having another chance to compete in the Olympics meant the world to me.”
Her teammate Suni Lee placed fifth after almost losing her balance during her routine.
Biles, 24, won bronze on balance beam in Rio de Janeiro five years ago and advanced to the women’s eight final at Ariake Gymnastics Center on the first weekend of the Games.
She retired from the team final on July 27 after a faltering performance on vault in the first rotation. She watched her three American teammates sideways finish the competition without her. The United States took the silver behind the team known as the Russian Olympic Committee.
Biles qualified for all five individual finals, but retired from four of them: the all-around, vault, floor exercise and uneven bars. Lee won the all-around gold medal, becoming the fifth consecutive American to win the sport’s title.
After retiring from the team and the all-around, Biles said she became disoriented during the vault competition, which gymnasts call “the twisties.” She explained that she started having problems after her qualifying round for the Games.
“It’s honestly petrifying to try to do a skill but not have your mind and body in sync,” she said. “10/10 do not recommend.”
She continued to defend her decision to withdraw from the competition for her own safety. It put the mental health conversation in the spotlight. Biles thought about it on Tuesday.
“I think we should talk about it a lot more, especially with the athletes because I know some of us go through the same things and we are always told to get through it… but at the end of the day we ‘ We’re not just entertainment, we’re humans, and there are things going on behind the scenes that we’re also trying to juggle in addition to sports, ”she said.
Biles is the most decorated American gymnast of all time. She has won 25 medals at the world championships and now seven more at the Olympics, according to her Olympic page.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published Aug 3, 2021 / 5:48 AM
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