Biles returns to Olympic competition for closing beam final

TOKYO (AFP) – Simone Biles will return to competition at the Olympic Games for the closing women’s gymnastics beam final today, USA Gymnastics announced.

“We are so excited to confirm that you will see two United States (US) athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow – Suni Lee and Simone Biles! Can’t wait to watch you both!” the US gymnastics federation posted on social media yesterday.

The confirmation followed the appearance of Biles’ name on the starting list of eight finalists for the beam.

Biles, the four-time Olympic champion widely considered to have pushed the sport to new limits, has said she is struggling with the “twisties”, a condition where gymnasts lose the ability to orientate themselves in mid-air.

She dramatically pulled out of last week’s opening team competition after one vault, and subsequently withdrew from the all-around final and three of the four apparatus finals – the floor, vault and uneven bars.

Coach Laurent Landi embraces Simone Biles. PHOTO: AP

The 24-year-old came to Tokyo seeking five gold medals to equal the Olympic all-time gymnastics record of nine.

She has documented her struggles with mental health during the Games in regular posts on her social media accounts.

Since taking a back seat at these Games Biles has been a constant visitor to the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, cheering on her compatriots.

One of her teammates, MyKayla Skinner, hinted on Sunday at Biles’ return to the competition floor.

Her decision to skip the vault competition allowed Skinner to take her spot and scoop a silver behind Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade.

“She’s still probably going to be competing,” Skinner told reporters.

“I don’t know for sure, it’s kind of up to her,” she said, but added “yeah I think so”, when asked whether the 19-time world champion would appear on the beam.

Skinner said Biles was “one strong cookie” but that the situation “has definitely hit her really hard”.

“She’s handling it better than I thought. Every day she’s been laughing, giggling, super supportive,” she added.

After withdrawing from competition, Biles said she wanted to “focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and my well-being”.