| 13.3°C Dublin

champ returns Simone Biles claims bronze medal as she returns to action after 'twisties' issue

Close

Simone Biles of Team United States competes in the Women's Balance Beam Final. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Simone Biles of Team United States competes in the Women's Balance Beam Final. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Simone Biles of Team United States competes in the Women's Balance Beam Final. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Simone Biles won her seventh Olympic medal in the Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Tuesday and even by her own extraordinary standards it may be destined to be her most coveted of the lot.

The 24-year-old fought off a spatial awareness issue known as the ‘twisties’ to take bronze on the women’s beam behind Chinese teenagers Chenchen Yuan and Tang Xijing.

It capped a remarkable return to centre stage for Biles, who had not competed since she withdrew early in the women’s team final last week, citing a desire to protect her mental health.

She subsequently pulled out of the first three of the four individual finals for which she had qualified, before reasoning that she was able to give it one last shot in the final women’s event of the Games.

Biles had arrived in Tokyo with the expectation of equalling or even surpassing her historic quadruple gold medal haul from Rio in 2016.

But despite successfully qualifying for all four individual finals, she seemed far from her all-conquering best, and left the floor after one rotation of the team final after failing to land a vault.

Biles later confirmed she had pulled out due to ‘twisting’, explaining in a social media quote: “It has never transferred to bars and beam for me. This time it’s literally in every event which sucks.

“(You) literally cannot tell up from down. It’s the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body.”

Despite beam not being regarded as Biles’ greatest strength, she has won three world titles on the apparatus, including in Stuttgart in 2019, and won a bronze medal in Rio 2016.

She booked her place in the final as the seventh out of eight qualifiers, but was only 0.134 behind her US team-mate Sunisa Lee, who qualified in third, whilst one of those who out-scored her, Romania’s Larisa Iordache, subsequently withdrew.

Ironically Biles’ bronze medal-winning total of 14.0 was lower than her heat score of 14.066, with a series of minor wobbles in a routine of otherwise exceptional difficulty.

Competing second, she immediately ranked behind Tang, but held onto second place until Yuan, the highest qualifier, delivered a routine which scored 14.633 to take gold away from her compatriot.

While there has been widespread acclaim for Biles after she raised awareness of mental health issues by pulling out of events, gymnastics experts have highlighted the primary reason why she opted to take a step back at Tokyo 2020.

Biles has confirmed she is suffering from 'twisties', which reflects a mental block on highly complex gymnastics moves that could lead to serious injury if the athlete continues to compete.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy