Although Simone Biles will leave Tokyo without a gold medal, she will still walk away having made Olympic history. As arguably the face of the Olympics, Biles, returned to the mat knowing that she needed to prove to herself — and not anyone else— that she could make a comeback.
On the final day of artistic gymnastics, Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history, set her sights on the balance beam after skipping all but one individual final because of her mental health struggles. Despite her inner demons, she rose to the occasion and won a bronze medal, bring her medal count to two. Biles picked up one silver and one bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Guan Chenchen of China won gold, and Tang Xijing, also of China, won the silver. “I wasn’t expecting to walk away with a medal,” Biles said afterward. “I was just going out there doing this for me.”
She added, “To have one more opportunity to be at the Olympics meant the world to me.” Biles, who was pegged to leave with several gold medals, ends her time in Tokyo with two medals: a silver in the team final and a bronze on Tuesday.
Simone Biles Leaves Olympics With Two Medals, Starts a Discussion on Mental Health
However, Biles says she wouldn’t change anything about her time at the Games because it gave her a chance to talk about mental health in the world of sports.
That discussion about mental health in the world’s most prestigious sporting event began when Biles struggled during her vault routine during the team final because she had lost herself in the air, something she and other gymnasts describe as the “twisties.”
Before entering the balance beam final, Biles had to meet twice with a sports psychologist, which she said was helpful because it allowed her to work through the intense emotions she felt after missing most of the events at the Olympics.
Just three days before the balance beam final, Simone Biles told her coach that she was ready to return to the mat— even though she was also dealing with the death of her aunt, who passed away recently.
During her routine, she left out the difficult dismount that was named after her. Yet, once she landed, she was all smiles before embracing her teammate Sunisa Lee. The day before, Lee said she could not imagine the sport without 24-year-old Biles because she had done so much to change the sport.
“She’s Simone Biles, and she means everything to the sport,” Lee said. “If she does retire, it’s going to be super weird without her.”
On Tuesday, as millions of people watched to see how she would resurrect herself, she was finally able to quiet those inner demons for just under two minutes. “At the end of the day, we’re not just entertainment. We’re humans,” Biles said. “And I think people forget that.”