The GOAT will return to the beam for the final.
The Olympic gymnastics women’s team final may be over, but the individual events are still on the table as anyone’s game. After gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of the team final on July 27, people all over the world are wondering if she’ll make a comeback during the Tokyo Games. So, will Simone Biles compete in the individual gymnastics events at the Olympics? Here’s what we know so far.
Immediately after pulling out of the final on July 27, it didn’t seem like Biles was in any rush to get back out onto the Olympic competition floor. After withdrawing from the team final for medical reasons, Biles said she wasn’t in the right mental state to perform the way she wanted. “I have to put my pride aside,” she told reporters. “I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” she added.
Fans who had been holding out hope for Biles’ return got good news early on Monday, Aug. 2. In a tweet shared by USA Gymnastics, the organization announced that “...you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow - Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!!” So, after sitting out for a week following her twisties, Biles will compete in the beam final on Tuesday, Aug. 3. Biles explained earlier in the week via her Instagram Story that her twisties, which kept her from competing in the floor and vault competitions after exiting the team final, have “never transferred to bars [and] beam.”
Biles herself has yet to comment on her return to the Olympic competition, but with the announcement of her competing for Team USA on Aug. 3, it seems the GOAT is confident in her beam routine — and I’m confident all her fans are thrilled to see her feeling well enough to be back in action.
Even though Biles qualified for the all-around and individual event finals on July 29, she decided to sit those out to prioritize her mental health, per a July 28 statement from USA Gymnastics. Instead, teammate Jade Carey took her place (and scored a gold medal for her floor routine on Aug. 2). “Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals,” the statement added. Biles qualified for all four of the apparatus events — vault, uneven bars, floor exercise, and balance beam — and previously won Olympic gold in vault and floor.
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being,” the statement from USA Gymnastics concluded. “Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”
Biles’ decision to withdraw from the team final competition came after a visibly shaky performance during her first rotation. She stumbled on her balance beam dismount, stepped out of bounds during her floor routine, and got “lost in the air” during her vault jump. Biles, traditionally a supremely confident gymnast, was clearly struggling with nerves. Even before the Tuesday competition began, Biles admitted she had been “fighting all those demons” when trying to rise above the pressure to perform successfully. Instead of risking an injury by trying to compete when she wasn’t mentally prepared, Biles chose to step away and let her teammates lead the team to silver.
Even as one of the most decorated gymnasts of all time, Biles has been honest about the pressure she carries. She opened up about her feelings in a July 25 Instagram post: “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times,” she wrote. “I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke!”
After her withdrawal, many supported her decision to prioritize herself and her health. From the United States, former teammate Aly Raisman shared words of support for Biles, and fans tweeted out messages praising her as still the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).
This year’s Olympics, which would be intense and stressful in any year, also follows a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left the international competition deeply controversial. This year’s Games have been highly scrutinized for continuing despite a state of emergency in Tokyo and multiple athletes, including an alternate for the gymnastics team, testing positive for COVID.
Despite the stress and frustration she feels, Biles is nonetheless proud of her teammates for pressing on without her. Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, and Grace McCallum earned silver for their performances, with Chiles filling in for Biles on the uneven bars. “[I’m] super proud of these girls and now we’re silver medalists,” Biles told US Magazine. “[It’s] something we’ll cherish forever. We hope America still loves us.”
Well, I’m here to say, Simone — of course America still loves you, no matter what you decide to do. So while it’s still unclear whether or not she’ll compete in the individual Olympic events, one thing is certain: Biles is still the greatest gymnast of all time.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a July 28 statement from USA Gymnastics.
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