'Totally inspiring': Simone Biles wins medal in Olympic comeback

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Simone Biles impressively won the bronze medal in the balance beam, after withdrawing from the majority of her Tokyo Olympics program. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Simone Biles impressively won the bronze medal in the balance beam, after withdrawing from the majority of her Tokyo Olympics program. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Simone Biles has won bronze in the balance beam, her only individual medal at the Tokyo Olympics after withdrawing from the majority of her events earlier in the program.

Her routine, absent the twists that caused her to withdraw from much of the program, was completed to rapturous applause from USA teammates who had supported Biles since she initially shocked the world with her decision.

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The pressure of an Olympic final took its toll on the field, where five of the eight qualifiers struggled to perform to the standard of their qualifying, often significantly.

China’s 16-year-old sensation Guan Chenchen (14.633) won gold and teammate Tang Xijing Tag (14.233) took silver. They were the two highest qualifiers and thus the favourites to win the event.

The Olympics are being staged without fans, and that includes at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. 

However, certain fellow athletes and staff can attend events and a relatively sizeable crowd came out for this event - including International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

The place was still mostly empty, but they provided a big cheer for Biles when she both was introduced and finished. 

A number of her teammates shouted and cheered throughout as many others held their breath, just hoping that an athlete who entered the event with six Olympic medals and 25 world championship honours could go out strong.

Biles did that. She bobbled on her triple wolf spin and wobbled later during a leap series, but was mostly solid. Her routine, typically a 6.500 difficulty, had been stripped down to a 6.100. 

With a 7.9 in execution, she couldn’t overcome the easier routine on the scoreboard.

Simone Biles makes stunning Olympics return for bronze

Biles had previously withdrawn from every individual event at these Games — all-around, vault, floor, uneven bars. 

She won gold in the first three of those events at the 2016 Olympics, plus a bronze on balance beam.

The 24-year-old was forced to withdraw from the team competition last Tuesday after a single rotation. 

She was unable to perform her planned vault — falling a full twist short of completion — and landed awkwardly, delivering a devastatingly low score for her teammates

Biles cited a lack of “air awareness” or what gymnasts call “the twisties” that make trying to complete extremely difficult moves extremely dangerous.

“I didn’t know where I was in the air,” Biles said.

Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles remained in Tokyo to support her teammates, despite withdrawing from most of her events. (Photo by Cao Can/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles remained in Tokyo to support her teammates, despite withdrawing from most of her events. (Photo by Cao Can/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Biles had been both working out in the gym and meeting receiving professional mental health help in hopes of being able to return. She announced Monday that she would give it a shot on beam.

The Houston native said she had been suffering from stress, anxiety and mental health issues upon arriving in Tokyo, where the immense pressure to push for perfection became too much.

“These Olympic Games, I wanted it to be about myself,” Biles said last week, as her voice shook with emotion and tears welled up in her eyes. “And I came in and I felt I was still doing it for other people and it hurts my heart that doing what I love has been taken away from me to please other people.

“... I was like, ‘I am not in the right headspace [to continue to compete on team]. I am not going to lose a medal for this country and these girls because they’ve worked way too hard to have me go out there and lose a medal.’”

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