Simone Biles will make a dramatic return to the Tokyo Olympics when she competes in the women’s beam final on Tuesday, USA Gymnastics has confirmed.
Biles has not competed since she withdrew early in the women’s team final last week, citing a desire to protect her mental health.
Afflicted by a phenomenon known as the ‘twisties’ – essentially a temporary struggle with spatial awareness – Biles pulled out of the first three of the four individual finals for which she had qualified.
We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow – Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!
— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) August 2, 2021
However, she has been named as the third of eight starters in the beam final, for which she qualified in seventh place last Sunday.
USA Gymnastics tweeted: “We are so excited to confirm that you will see two US athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow – Suni Lee and Simone Biles!!”
Biles arrived at the Games with the expectation of equalling or even surpassing her historic quadruple gold medal haul from Rio in 2016.
But despite successfully qualifying for all four individual finals, she seemed far from her all-conquering best, and left the floor after one rotation of the subsequent team final after failing to land a vault.
Biles later confirmed she had pulled out due to ‘twisting’, explaining in a social media quote: “It has never transferred to bars and beam for me. This time it’s literally in every event which sucks.
“(You) literally cannot tell up from down. It’s the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body.”
Biles won Olympic bronze on the beam at Rio 2016, to go with four golds from other events at those Games.
She has three gold and two bronze medals from World Championship beam competitions, most recently gold in 2019.
One of Biles' four eponymous skills is on beam, a double salto backward dismount with double twist. Its difficulty rating of H is the highest of any beam element, though Biles and others insist it remains undervalued.
By her own incredible standards, beam is not Biles’ strongest piece of apparatus, and the chances of her winning a medal appear relatively slim even notwithstanding her current plight.
She won a bronze medal in Rio, behind Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands, who failed to qualify this time, and her United States team-mate Laurie Hernandez.