Tokyo Olympics: Simone Biles gets bronze in balance beam, behind China duo

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Simone Biles of the United States competes in the women's balance beam final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Simone Biles of the United States competes in the women's balance beam final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (PHOTO: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Reporting from Tokyo

TOKYO — On what could be her Olympic swansong, Simone Biles clinched a bronze medal in the women's balance beam event on Tuesday (3 August) - behind China's Guan Chenchen (gold) and Tang Xijing (silver) - putting an end to a tumultuous week in which she pulled out from several events citing mental health issues.

The 24-year-old American gymnast, who won four golds and one bronze at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, will end her Tokyo Olympics with this one medal.

"I was proud of myself just to go out there," said Biles. "This (medal) is definitely sweeter. I'll treasure this one a lot more after everything I have been through.

"I was just happy to be able to perform regardless of the outcome. I did it for me and I was happy to be able to compete one more time.. Training for five years and coming here and kind of being triggered and not being able to do anything wasn’t fun.”

Biles - who holds the record for most golds at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships with 19 - had withdrawn at last week's team final, then three other individual events - the vault, the uneven bars and the floor exercise, sparking intense speculation whether she would even take part in her final event.

On Tuesday, she appeared at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre to loud applause and cheers, and calmly completed a top-notch balance beam routine with a smile to score 14.000 points. 

China's Guan Chenchen competes in the artistic gymnastics women's balance beam final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
China's Guan Chenchen competes in the artistic gymnastics women's balance beam final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (PHOTO: Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images)

However, the young Chinese gymnasts - Guan is only 16 years old while Tang is 18 - were flawless in their routines as Guan clinched the gold with 14.633 points and Tang the silver with 14.233 points.

Following her withdrawal from the team event, Biles shared that she was suffering from a mental block dubbed "the twisties", in which a gymnast loses awareness while performing twists in the air. 

It had struck her during her vault routine at last week's women's team final, and she made the call to withdraw from the competition for her physical safety and mental health. The US team eventually finished second behind the Russian Olympic Committee.

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