Biles Returns to Competition With a Bronze Medal and a Smile


Simone Biles, of the United States, performs on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

By Jim Vertuno, Associated Press

Simone Biles returned to the competition at the Tokyo Olympics in style, and will leave with another medal. What color it is really isn’t the point. That she delivered a tense, heart-pounding routine on the balance beam and nailed it with a smile meant everything.

Biles looked calm as she moved, turned and flipped across the beam. It was everyone else watching who held their breath. “I had nerves but I felt pretty good,” she said. Biles won the bronze medal when she drilled a slightly altered routine in front of a crowd that included IOC President Thomas Bach a week after taking herself out of several competitions to focus on her mental health.

That move by the gymnast regarded the greatest in history had amplified attention on the importance of mental health in sports in general, and among Olympians specifically. “I was just happy to be able to perform, regardless of the outcome,” Biles said. “I did it for me, and I was just proud of myself for being able to compete one more time.”

Biles changed her routine a bit while dealing with a mental block surrounding twisting. She used a double-pike dismount — no twisting required — to score a 14.000, which was ultimately good enough for third in the eight-woman final, behind China’s Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing. Biles earned her seventh career Olympic medal and tied Shannon Miller for the most by an American in gymnastics.