American gymnast Simone Biles added a little luster to her tarnished brand Tuesday by winning a bronze medal on the balance beam at the Tokyo Olympics.
Last week, Biles walked out on Team USA in the middle of the team competition, saying she felt mentally unable to perform and that would have resulted in physical risk.
She skipped most of the other events in which she had been expected to compete and likely win gold.
Simone Biles took to Instagram to go more in depth about her struggles with “the twisties” at the Olympics. pic.twitter.com/iNV46TuFoe
— ESPN India (@ESPNIndia) July 31, 2021
She returned to compete Tuesday and finished third among eight competitors.
All smiles for Biles! 😄
— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) August 3, 2021
“It wasn’t easy pulling out of all those competitions,” Biles said, according to ESPN. “People just thought it was easy, but I physically and mentally was not in the right head space, and I didn’t want to jeopardize my health and my safety because at the end of the day, it’s not worth it.”
Simone “flawless” Biles 😍🥳🤩
— Ludovica 熊猫🐼 (@ludovicasini101) August 3, 2021
Most medals ever by U.S. gymnasts (7):
Simone Biles: 🥇🥇🥇🥇🥈🥉🥉
Shannon Miller: 🥇🥇🥈🥈🥉🥉🥉 https://t.co/vGPNgzRsLP
— Al Butler (@ALaboutSports) August 3, 2021
Although the bronze meant Biles had tied Shannon Miller for the most medals by an American gymnast at seven, Biles said her health was most important.
“My mental and physical health is above all medals that I could ever win,” the 24-year-old said.
However, she said, it was good to compete one final time in Tokyo.
“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,” she said.
Biles said last week’s struggles remained somewhat of a mystery to her.
“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 the whole life. I was physically ready. I was fine. And then this happens, and it’s something that was so out of my control,” she said.
Biles said it is not clear if she will compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“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.
Despite being one of the most beloved American athletes, Biles this year lashed out at those she called “haters” and started wearing a goat on her leotard, a symbol for her standing as the “Greatest of All Time.”
“I just hope that kids growing up watching this don’t or aren’t ashamed of being good at whatever they do. And that’s my problem: when people kind of harp on other people that are good at something. And it’s like, everybody can say you’re good, but once you acknowledge it, it’s not cool anymore. And I want kids to learn that, yes, it’s OK to acknowledge that you’re good or even great at something,” she said in an interview with Marie Clare.
The bronze medalist is scheduled to lead the “Gold Over America Tour” of female athletes this autumn. Floor tickets for the first stop on the tour are priced at $192.75, with VIP packages costing over $300.
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