Simone Biles Makes Her Lauded Return Known With A Bronze Medal Win

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Image: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

After missing the finals on vault, uneven bars and floor exercise, Biles went third of eight during the last day of events for artistic gymnastics.

The 2020 Olympic Games closes for Simone Biles with a thunderous roar of applause and a bronze medal on the balance beam.

After missing the finals on vault, uneven bars, floor exercise, and the all-around, the GOAT made her return to competition Tuesday—the last day of events for artistic gymnastics—at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

Arriving to a huge ovation from her teammates and those able to be in attendance, Biles made it known that it was not easy to just hop back on the proverbial saddle and perform. “It wasn’t easy pulling out of all those competitions,” she said to ESPN. “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.”

“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.”

It was the seventh career Olympic medal for Biles, who tied with Shannon Miller for the most by an American in gymnastics.

The 24-year-old superstar athlete showcased a toned-down variety of her routine that usually features a high degree of difficulty. This go-around, Biles’ altered performance was solid and only required her to do a small hop after her double pike dismount. Upon landing, she blew kisses to the crowd and concluded her set. 

The judges scored her with a 14.000, finishing behind Chenchen Guan (14.633) and Xijing Tang (14.233), both of China. 

Despite widely being expected to break Miller’s record, the reigning Olympic titleholder in the all-around, vault, floor, and a 15-time individual world champion—Biles’ withdrawal from the team on July 27 greatly impacted those opportunities. 

Following the first event Biles completed on vault, she shared that she experienced “a little bit of the twisties,” which is a disorientation while tumbling, and no longer trusted her ability to compete.

She later opted out of the all-around competition, as well as three other event finals. Afterwards, she took to Instagram in a series of posts to share more about experiencing the phenomenon, and said her “mind and body are simply not in sync.”

“I was OK with missing finals because I knew I couldn’t do it,” she said Tuesday. “My problem was why my body and my mind weren’t in sync, and that’s what I couldn’t wrap my head around. Like, what happened? Was I overtired? And just like, where did the wires not connect?

“And that was really hard because it’s like, I trained my whole life. I was physically ready. I was fine. And then this happens, and it’s something that was so out of my control.”

Biles’ will compete in Tuesday’s beam final alongside teammate Sunisa Lee in the final women’s artistic gymnastics events of the Games. And even though she has been on the sidelines, Biles has been seen and heard cheering on her teammates at every event over the past week, while they have praised her leadership and grace under the circumstances she’s faced.

“It’s seriously cool to see her love and support and cheering us on,” said MyKayla Skinner, who replaced Biles in the vault final, winning silver. “And I knew she was going to be the loudest one in there [on Sunday] because she’s like, ‘I want you to make [the] podium, I want you to medal.’ And she’s just been so awesome in the last couple of days. After everything she’s gone through, it is really cool to see how strong she’s being.”

“So just to see how amazing she’s dealt with everything and all the horrible comments and just how people are responding to her. She is definitely one strong cookie, and she’s definitely inspired me in so many ways.”

Team USA returned the favor to her loudly on Tuesday, yelling fervently for Biles (and Lee) throughout. Lee, who won the all-around title as well as a bronze medal on bars, finished fifth on beam.

With no concrete plans in the sport following these Games, including the 2024 Paris Olympics, Simone Biles plans to tour the U.S. as part of her Gold Over America Tour.

“Paris is definitely not in my mind frame because I think there are so many things that I have to work on for myself first,” she said.

Don’t forget to read EBONY’s exclusive sit-down with the gymnastic phenom here!

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