Simone Biles competed for the last time at the Tokyo Olympics during Tuesday's individual balance beam finals after she withdrew from several events during the first week of the Summer Games. Widely regarded as the great gymnast of all time, Biles won bronze.
The 24-year-old showed up with a strong routine that ended in a double pike, earning a 14.00, behind two Chinese competitors, Guan Chenchen in first and Tang Xijing in second.
In the past, Biles has dismounted from the beam with a double-twisting double backflip, a skill named after her, but she skipped the move Tuesday, likely due to suffering what gymnasts call "the twisties," when they lose awareness of where they are in a skill mid-air, making it difficult to land safely.
By being able to complete her final event, she "made the impossible possible," NBC Olympics commentators said.
During July 25's qualifying round, Biles placed seventh on the beam, with a score of 14.066, just barely advancing her to the finals. Fellow Team USA gymnast Sunisa Lee, who took home gold last week in the individual all-around competition, competed in the balance beam, as well, placing fifth.
Biles also qualified for the finals in the team competition, individual all-around, bars, floor and vault, but withdrew from all of the events, citing her mental health.
"Physically, I feel good, I'm in shape," she told Hoda Kotb exclusively on TODAY last Tuesday after the shocking announcement that she would not finish the team competition. "Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn't an easy feat, so we're just trying to take it one day at a time and we'll see."
She later revealed that she was suffering from the "twisties." The Olympic gold medalist said she'd dealt with the phenomenon before but only on floor and vault, whereas this time around she felt it during all four events.
The first event Biles withdrew from was the team competition last Tuesday after performing 1 1/2 twists on her vault instead of her usual 2 1/2. The U.S. women's gymnastics team, including Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum and Suni Lee, went on to win the silver. During the 2020 Games, postponed to 2021, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey also took home the silver on vault and gold on floor respectively, meaning all female gymnasts who competed for the U.S. in Tokyo medaled.
USA Gymnastics announced Monday that Biles would compete one more time in Tokyo, writing, "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!"
At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Biles took home four golds for the team competition, individual all-around, vault and floor events and one bronze for beam. She is tied at seven for the most Olympic medals for an American female gymnast.