Simone Biles returned to competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after sitting out much of the competition for her mental and physical well-being. The record-breaking gymnast competed in the balance beam event on Tuesday (Aug. 3) where she placed third. Guan Chenchen and Xijing Tang both of China took the gold and silver medals respectively. According to a statistic shared by USA Gymnastics, Biles is tied with Shannon Miller for the most medals by a U.S. gymnast at the Olympics with seven.
“It wasn’t easy pulling out of all those competitions,” Biles said after her win according to The Guardian. “People just thought it was easy, but I physically and mentally was not in the right headspace and I didn’t want to jeopardize my health and my safety because at the end of the day, it’s not worth it.”
She continued, “My mental and physical health is above all medals that I could ever win. So to be clear, to do beam, which I didn’t think I was going to be, just meant the world to be back out there. And I wasn’t expecting to walk away with the medal. I was just going out there doing this for me.”
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) August 3, 2021
Biles initially withdrew from certain events at the Tokyo Olympics last week. As VIBE reported, on July 27, the 24-year-old did not participate in the final individual all-around competition after medical evaluation. She also did not complete the team final, earning support on social media from the likes of Michelle Obama, who wished her well as she prioritized her mental health and livelihood.
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many,” said a statement released by the USA Gymnastics team.
According to CNN, Biles opened up in more detail about her difficulties on social media. In now-deleted posts, she detailed experiencing the twisties, a phenomenon that sometimes affects gymnasts and can result in serious injury. Biles uploaded videos with text explainers to educate viewers unfamiliar with the condition and the impact on her mental health. In the videos, recorded on Friday (July 30) during a practice session, the athlete struggled with dismounts.
“Btw it’s never transferred to bars & beam for me. It strictly likes [sic] floor & vault,” she described in a post, adding, “but this time it’s literally on every event. which sucks… really bad.”
She continued in a separate post, “it’s honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind & body in sync.”