Simone Biles Plans to Compete in the Balance Beam, Her Last Possible Event in Tokyo

Simone Biles Plans to Compete in the Balance Beam, Her Last Possible Event in Tokyo

Simone Biles, the headliner of the Tokyo Olympics for Team U.S.A., plans compete in the balance beam final on Tuesday, her final event at these Summer Games, according to U.S.A. Gymnastics. Her decision comes after she withdrew from the all-around and three other event finals, citing mental health issues that were keeping her from safely performing her complicated and daring routines.

“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!” U.S.A. Gymnastics said in a statement.

Last week, Biles competed in qualifying and in the team finals, but only performed in the first event of team finals — the vault — before withdrawing because she felt that she might injure herself if she continued, or at least jeopardize her team’s chances at a medal. Her teammates competed in the rest of the event without her, and she earned a silver medal with them.

Since then, Biles had backed out of all-around final and three event finals, which were the vault, uneven bars, floor exercise and balance beam. Competing on Tuesday gives her a chance to win a gold at an Olympics where she had been expected to dominate. If she does win the event, it would also be redemption for her performance on the balance beam final at the 2016 Games, where she was the gold-medal favorite but came away with the bronze.

Biles’s performance in the balance beam will be the must-see event, starring the athlete who came into Tokyo as the face of gymnastics worldwide. She was expected to win the all-around and become the first woman in 53 years to repeat as Olympic champion in the all-around. She also was planning to perform her breathtaking and dangerous Yurchenko double pike vault, which is so risky that she could break her neck or ankles if she doesn’t rotate enough to land on her feet. If she had landed that vault at the Games, it would have been named after her.

Now she is considering retirement, though she has hinted that she might return as a vault specialist at the 2024 Games in Paris, to honor her French coaches. If that doesn’t happen, Tuesday’s balance beam final might be her farewell performance.

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