Sport Olympics Beaming US gym star Simone Biles back for beam finals

Beaming US gym star Simone Biles back for beam finals

Tokyo Olympics
Simone Biles will leave the stands and participate in the beam final in Tokyo. Photo: Getty
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Simone Biles is back.

The 2016 Olympic gymnastics champion will return to competition in the balance beam final on Tuesday, a little over a week after stepping away from the meet to focus on her mental health.

“We are so excited to confirm that you will see two US 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.

Biles, 24, won bronze on beam in Rio de Janeiro five years ago and qualified for the eight-woman final at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on the first weekend of the Games.

She removed herself from the team final on July 27 after a shaky performance on vault during the first rotation. She watched from the sidelines as her three American teammates completed the meet without her and took silver behind Russia.

The six-time Olympic medallist later said she was dealing with issues surrounding air awareness, referred to as “the twisties” in her sport.

Biles qualified for all five individual event finals but took herself out of four of them: the all-around, vault, floor exercise and uneven bars.

Tokyo Olympics
Simone Biles won bronze on beam in Rio de Janeiro five years ago. Photo: Getty

Considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time and the unquestioned face of the US Olympic movement when she arrived in Japan, Biles continued to train and be evaluated daily by the USA Gymnastics staff after opting out of multiple finals.

She has also been a fixture in the stands supporting Lee, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey while they competed in the event finals.

She went into extensive detail about “the twisties” last week, explaining she lost the confidence of knowing what her body was going to do in midair.

It’s not the first time Biles dealt with the problem, though she did say the issues followed her to both uneven bars and beam.

Previous bouts with the phenomenon were limited to floor exercise and vault, where more twisting elements are required.

Finishing her second Olympics – and perhaps her career – on the balance beam is poetic justice of sorts for Biles.

She got bronze in Rio for her fifth medal at those Games while the other four were gold.

Athletes from all over – both at the Olympics and elsewhere – have rallied around her over the last week, praising her courage for speaking up about the importance of mental health.