Simone Biles wasn’t sure that she was going to return at any point during the 2021 Olympics when she withdrew from the team competition after one vault. She was dealing with the “twisties,” a mental issue common in gymnastics that made her uncertain of where she was while flipping through the air.
As each day went by, she dropped out of more events. The all-around; the vault; the uneven bars; the floor exercises. As difficult as it was, Biles knew she had to withdraw to protect herself.
“It wasn’t easy pulling out of all those competitions,” Biles said, per ESPN. “People just thought it was easy, but I physically and mentally was not in the right head space and I didn’t want to jeopardize my health and my safety because, at the end of the day, it’s not worth it. My mental and physical health is above all medals that I could ever win.”
Before Monday, Biles wasn’t even sure whether she was going to be able to compete on the balance beam, let alone compete for a medal. She admitted that she struggled and “couldn’t wrap her head around” why she was having issues where she previously hadn’t.
As such, she carried just one main goal entering the beam final. She just wanted to be back on the floor above all else. Earning the bronze was gravy.
“To do beam, which I didn’t think I was going to be, just meant the world to be back out there,” Biles said. “And I wasn’t expecting to walk away with the medal. I was just going out there doing this for me.”
That may explain why Biles did a slightly less complex routine than usual on the beam. She wanted to be able to perform and do so cleanly in what may be the last Olympic event of her career.
Biles was mum about her future after the beam final on Tuesday. However, she indicated that the 2024 Paris Olympics, which are less than three years away, are not at the forefront of her mind right now.
“Paris is definitely not in my mind frame because I think there are so many things that I have to work on for myself first,” she said.
The 24-year-old’s future will certainly bear watching. But if this was Biles’ final act on the Olympic stage, it certainly was a strong finish.