Simone Biles to compete on balance beam at Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo 2020

Simone Biles, of the United States, watches gymnasts perform at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. Biles says she wasn’t in right ‘headspace’ to compete and withdrew from gymnastics team final to protect herself. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(NBC Olympics) — Simone Biles will compete in the women’s beam event final on Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics, USA Gymnastics announced. 

“We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athlete in the balance beam final tomorrow – Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!” the national governing body said.

Beam is the last opportunity for Biles to compete in Tokyo after withdrawing from the team final after one rotation, followed by her next four possible events, citing concerns about her mental health. 

In addition to stress due to the pressure she was facing to perform, Biles said she was dealing with a case of the “twisties,” a phenomenon gymnasts experience in which they feel a disconnect between their mind and body. The issue can be extremely dangerous when hurdling through the air, as gymnasts often lose track of where the ground is and lose control of how many times they’re twisting.

After Team USA’s MyKayla Skinner took silver in the vault final on Sunday (she was bumped into the event after Biles withdrew), she told reporters that she believed Biles would compete on beam. Individual all-around gold medalist Suni Lee is also set to compete in the apparatus final. 

One of Biles’ four eponymous skills is a double-twisting double backflip beam dismount, but she could end her routine with a simpler skill — like a double pike — if the twisties are still a concern on Tuesday. She narrowly squeaked into the beam final with a seventh-place finish during qualifications, scoring a 14.066. 

In qualifications, Biles became the first woman since 1992 to advance to the final in all six possible Olympic events — the team final, individual all-around final and the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor event finals.

Widely regarded as the greatest female gymnast of all time, Biles won five medals at the 2016 Olympics: gold in the team final, individual all-around, vault and floor finals, and bronze on beam. While Biles has previously said she planned to retire after the Tokyo Games, meaning that beam would be her final Olympic routine, she hinted in April that she could consider returning for Paris 2024 as a specialist.Expand

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