2020 Tokyo Olympics: Simone Biles Set to Compete on Balance Beam After Withdrawing From Three Previous Individual Events

by Josh Lanier

Simone Biles will compete again in the Tokyo Olympics after pulling out of three earlier events to focus on her mental health. Team USA Gymnastics confirmed that Biles will take part in the balance beam finals on Tuesday.

Simone Biles is a three-time world champion on the balance beam. She won a bronze medal in the event at the Rio Games in 2016, ESPN said.

This was the last event Biles could participate in, and whether she would or not was in limbo until Monday. The 24-year-old withdrew from the team the vault, uneven bars, and the floor routine in recent days. And she pulled out of the team all-around last week.

Biles said last week that her “mind and body were not in sync” because she was suffering from what gymnasts call the twisties. It’s a phenomenon where gymnasts are unable to orient their body while performing aerial acrobatic moves. It can be extremely dangerous. Biles shared a video of one of her practices where she landed on her back because she “got lost” in the air.

“Literally cannot tell up from down,” Simone Biles said, according to ESPN. “It’s the craziest feeling ever. Not having an inch of control over your body. What’s even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air I also have NO idea how I’m going to land, or what I’m going to land on. Head/hands/feet/back.”

However, her withdrawal has allowed other members of Team USA to step up. Suni Lee won a gold medal in the individual all around competition. MyKayla Skinner took silver in the women’s vault. Jade Carey won gold in the women’s floor·Artistic gymnastics event on Monday.

Athletes, Sponsors Show Simone Biles Support

Simone Biles may be the greatest gymnast of all time, which has landed her a number of sponsorships and endorsement deals. Biles’ decision to withdraw from several events has started a heated debate online about athletes’ mental health.

Despite the controversy, her sponsors are standing with her. Many are even praising her for having the courage to step up and admit to having issues.

“We stand by Simone and support her well-being both in and out of competition,” Atleta, the women’s athletic brand said in a statement. “… We are inspired by her leadership today and are behind her every step of the way.”

Visa, Nabisco, and Core Power have also come forward to show their support of Simone Biles.

Michael Phelps passionately defended Biles’ decision, telling Mike Tirico that “it’s OK not to be OK.”

“We’re humans. Right? We’re human beings. Nobody is perfect,” he told Mike Tirico, Sporting News reported. “So, yes, it is OK to not be OK. It is OK to go through ups and downs and emotional roller coasters, you know. But I think the biggest thing is, we all need to ask for help sometimes too when we go through those times. You know, for me, I can personally, it was something that was very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help. I felt like I was carrying, as Simone said, the weight of the world on your shoulders. So, yeah, it’s a tough situation.”