Simone Biles to Compete in Balance Beam Final in Tokyo, Following Mental Health Break
© REUTERS / Mike BlakeTokyo 2020 Olympics - Gymnastics - Artistic - Women's Floor Exercise - Final - Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan - August 2, 2021. Simone Biles of the United States looks on
© REUTERS / Mike Blake
Despite qualifying for all five individual events at the Tokyo Olympics, Team USA gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of all but one event, citing mental health issues. At the same time, Team USA gymnast Sunisa Lee recently became the fifth-straight American to win gold in the all-around gymnastics final.
USA Olympics confirmed on Monday that US gymnasts Biles and Lee would both be competing in the balance beam finals on Tuesday at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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
The announcement came after Biles decided to withdraw from a total of four events, including the women's all-around final.
Despite the public insults leveled against Biles, the 24-year-old has claimed that she has a case of the "twisties" - a term used in the gymnastics community to describe when an athlete loses control during a trick and is unable to determine where they are in the air.
Former gymnast Jacoby Miles, who was once a 15-year-old, high-level athlete, told Sports Illustrated that she endured a case of the "twisties" while attempting a double backflip dismount from the uneven bars when practicing on November 16, 2012.
"That same exact thing that happened to Simone happened to me," she said. "I got lost in the air."
After succumbing to the twisties, Miles landed on her neck and dislocated her fourth cervical vertebra, rendering her paralyzed in all four limbs.
Additionally, supporters of Biles' decision have called attention to a number of incidents when minor slip-ups had catastrophic results.
US gymnast Julissa Gomez, for example, was a 15-year-old Olympic hopeful when her foot slipped on the springboard during a routine maneuver in 1988, causing her to hit the vaulting horse with her head.
The 15-year-old went unconscious and stopped breathing before regaining consciousness soon after. However, she later slipped into a coma and was left with severe brain damage. Gomez's family took care of her for around three years, until the former gymnast died from an infection in 1991.
Gomez's tragedy remains one of the most serious accidents to occur at the professional level of gymnastics.