Simon Biles, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, is set to return to the Olympics this Tuesday for the balance beam final. This will be the last gymnastic competition for this year’s Tokyo Olympics. For mental health reasons, this 24-year-old American athlete was unable to compete in the previous four finals.
Just this past week, the USA Gymnastics team announced that Biles will now have a final shot to win a gold medal in Tokyo come Tuesday.
This balance beam competition will be the first one that she has competed in since this past Tuesday when she decided to withdraw from the competition in total. The world watched as she struggled with her vert first vault attempt, obtaining a surprisingly low 13.766 score.
Biles noted that her struggle came in part due to “the twisties,” a common gymnast issue that is very similar to yips. The US Gymnastics team said that they would be evaluating Biles every day to decide whether or not she would be able to compete.
Even without Biles, the US was still able to obtain a silver medal for the team final. However, following the competition, Biles decided to withdraw from the competition as a whole, including uneven bars, vault, and floor exercise finals. Her reasoning was that she needed to preserve both her physical and mental health.
Even after that, the US was still able to medal in each of those events, taking home the gold in the all-around, gold in the floor, silver in the vault, and bronze in the uneven bars.
In a series of Instagram posts from last Friday, Biles said that she was still experiencing the “twisties” phenomenon. The best explanation that exists for non-gymnasts is that the experience feels like getting lost in the air. Essentially, the body and mind are not in sync, according to Biles.
MyKayla Skinner, Biles’ teammate who replaced her during the vault final this past Sunday, said that she believed Biles would be able to compete on Tuesday.
“Yeah, I think so,” Skinner said. “I don’t know for sure. It’s kind of up to her. So that’s the game plan.”
When it comes to the balance beam, Biles has quite an extensive history. In fact, she has already taken home three gold medals in the balance beam event for the World Championships. She was also able to take home a bronze during the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Since then, she has attended the Ariake Gymnastics Centre to cheer on all of her US teammates for each and every competition.
On the other end of the spectrum, former Olympian freestyle wrestler Henry Cejudo said that Biles made a mistake withdrawing from the Olympics and needs to “check herself.”
“I think there’s time for a little bit of tough love,” Cejudo, who is now retired from competition, said in the clip, adding “sometimes we do need a nice kick in the arse. They only give you a platform. It’s up to you to believe it and to accept it. If you start to think you’re the GOAT and the greatest of all time, then that’s on you.”
This Tuesday at 4 a.m. eastern, the Women’s Balance Beam final will take place. Suni Lee and Simone Biles will represent the United States.