Simone Biles isn’t done with the Olympics just yet
Simone Biles is back. After withdrawing from the team final, individual all-around, and several individual event finals, the star of the USA Gymnastics team has announced that she plans to compete in the individual balance beam final, alongside her teammate and all-around winner, Suni Lee.
The balance beam event will take place on Tuesday. It’s the final event that Biles qualified for, and her last chance for a medal at this year’s Olympics. USA Gymnastics announced her decision to compete on Monday, just before the start of the floor exercise final, which Biles decided to withdraw from.
“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!!” the organization wrote in a tweet. “Can’t wait to watch you both!”
The announcement comes one week after Biles withdrew from her first event, the team final. At the time, and as she’s withdrawn from subsequent events, she’s been open about needing to focus on her mental health. On social media, she explained that she’s suffering from “the twisties,” a mental block that can affect gymnasts and makes them unable to determine where they are in relation to the ground as they twist through the air during difficult maneuvers. At her level of competition, Biles said, a fall from the twisties could mean a career-ending injury — or even death.
Biles has received an outpouring of support from fans, other gymnasts, and other athletes — people who understand the intensity and the pressure of not only competing in the Olympics, but being such a celebrity like Biles, who was heavily favored to win multiple events, bring home an armful of medals, and help propel the USA Gymnastics team to victory.
That kind of pressure would be difficult for anyone to handle. But in interviews before this year’s Games began, Biles hinted at her mental state. She talked about how she had planned to be done with USA Gymnastics by now, but the pandemic delayed this year’s Olympics, forcing her to work with the organization for another year. USA Gymnastics helped facilitate former team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of more than 350 women and girls, including Biles.
We’re ecstatic to see Biles back and planning to compete, of course. But even if she didn’t compete, that would be fine. What’s more important is that she’s healthy, strong, and happy.