Simone Biles to compete in balance beam final, USA Gymnastics says

Simone Biles will compete again at the Tokyo Olympics. The six-time Olympic medallist will contest the balance beam final on Tuesday, the final day of artistic gymnastics in Tokyo.

USA Gymnastics announced on Monday that both she and her teammate, all-around champion Sunisa Lee, will take their places in the final. Its tweet read: “We are so excited to confirm that you will see two US athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow – Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!”

Biles had arrived at the Olympics with the realistic chance of competing for five gold medals, but after losing herself in the air on her opening vault during the women’s team final, she withdrew from that final in order to protect her mental health. Biles said that she would make a decision on her participation in each event by re-evaluating day by day and she proceeded to withdraw from the individual all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor finals.

Over the course of the week, further light was shed on Biles’s struggles as she explained that she was suffering from the twisties, a mental block that affects many of the difficult skills she competes. “For anyone saying I quit, I didn’t quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here,” Biles wrote on Instagram. “I don’t think you realise how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface.”

Biles said that while previous mental blocks have primarily affected her on vault and floor routines, this time it was affecting her on all events and particularly on her twisting skills. On the balance beam, Biles normally attempts fewer twists than all other events and so she may feel most comfortable in that event. Her sole twisting skill is her high-difficulty full twisting double back dismount, which she could downgrade to a less difficult dismount if the skill remains a problem for her.

Since her withdrawal, Biles has said that she has spent time training at an unspecified location in Tokyo where she has been able to train her skills safely into a foam pit. During competition days, she has usually been the loudest voice in the arena, cheering her teammates and many gymnasts from other countries with whom she is friendly. They will now have the chance to support her in kind.

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