Simone Biles to return to Olympics competition after pulling out of events over mental health concerns


Simone Biles, who has pulled out of several events at the Tokyo Olympics citing the need to protect her mental health, will compete in the balance beam final, USA Gymnastics has said.

“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!! Can’t wait to watch you both!” USA Gymnastics said in a statement.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist ruled herself out of the vault and uneven bars finals, as well as from the all-round final.

She also removed herself from the team final on 27 July after a shaky performance on vault during the first rotation.

She watched on, cheering, as her three American teammates carried on without her, finishing second behind the Russian Olympic Committee.

Indeed, she has become something of a fixture in the stands supporting Lee, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey in their event finals.

Biles, 24, said she was dealing with issues surrounding air awareness, referred to as “the twisties” in gymnastics.

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She qualified for all five individual event finals but took herself out of four of them, ending her hopes of finishing the games with a career total of 10 Olympic medals.

The balance beams final is on Tuesday. The gymnast won bronze on beam in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.

Simone Biles (right) dropped out of the gymnastics event on Tuesday for "medical reasons"
Simone Biles (right) celebrating after the USA took silver in the team event

Biles has been praised for her bravery in confronting her challenges with mental health.

Max Whitlock, who has retained his Olympic pommel horse title, has praised “incredible” Biles for prioritising her mental health, describing her as the greatest of all time.

He told Sky Sports News: “She’s incredible and I think what she’s done out here shows a lot of strength.

“That’s probably one of the hardest things for her to do. It’s really difficult.”

Simone Biles won four gold medals and a bronze at Rio 2016. Pic: AP
Simone Biles won four gold medals and a bronze at Rio 2016. Pic: AP

The four-time gold medal-winner from Rio posted since deleted videos showing her getting lost in the air on two attempts at her uneven bars dismount, a double-twisting, double back, said.

Previously, Biles explained, she had only suffered from twisties on floor and vault. Tokyo is the first time they have affected other events.

She said: “They’re not fun to deal with. It’s honestly petrifying trying to do a skill… not having your mind and body in sync”.

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