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Simone Biles Returns to the Balance Beam

Simone Biles Returns to the Balance Beam

Simone Biles has set a new standard for female athletes, and particularly female athletes of color, to prioritize their mental health over competing, whether it be in the Olympics or any other sporting event.

Biles had removed herself from the team final on July 27th 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 the U.S. took the silver medal behind the team known as the Russian Olympic Committee. The six-time Olympic medalist later said she was dealing with issues surrounding air awareness, referred to as “the twisties” in her sport.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 22: Simone Biles of the United States during the Artistic Gymnastics Podium Training at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 22, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time and the unquestioned face of the U.S. 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.

Finishing her second Olympics — and perhaps her career — on the balance beam is poetic justice of sorts for Biles. She got bronze in Rio despite grabbing the 4-inch piece of wood that’s 4 feet off the ground when she almost slipped mid-routine. It was her fifth medal at the Games. The other four were gold. Biles has called the bronze the medal she earned in Brazil that she’s proudest of, and she’s taken to task those who called it a disappointment, using it as proof of the double standard she believes follows her whenever she competes.

Athletes and others from all over have rallied around her over the past week, praising her courage for speaking up about the importance of mental health.

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