US gymnast Simone Biles completed her own redemptive arc on Tuesday by claiming bronze on the balance beam.
The 24-year old's score of 14.000 saw her finish third behind 16-year old gold medalist Guan Chenchen (14.633), and Tang Xijing (14.233).
It was Biles' first event in Tokyo since withdrawing from the women's team all-around final last week.
The four-time gold medalist in Rio took a step back from competition as she sought to protect her mental health. Biles had been struggling with the "twisties", a mental block suffered by gymnasts comparable to the "yips" in golf.
“To be cleared to do beam, which I didn’t think I was going to be, just meant the world to be back out there," Biles said after securing bronze, "I wasn’t expecting to walk away with a medal.”
Biles also took bronze on the same apparatus five years ago in Rio.
Here’s an example of a mental block for anybody who has no idea. This one was safe and quite honestly funny to watch, but that’s because I didn’t land head first pic.twitter.com/PoOy1VUvkq
— Rhys Mcclenaghan (@McClenaghanRhys) July 29, 2021
She revealed that two sessions with a sports psychologist led her back to action in Tokyo.
Biles had withdrawn from every other individual event in which she'd qualified, except the balance beam.
“The only reason why I could do beam was because there was no twisting,” she revealed, “so thank God for that.”
Regarding her sessions with the sports psychologist, she said, "That really helped me stay level-headed and be OK with missing the other finals.
"Watching them, being the girls’ biggest cheerleader, wasn’t where I wanted to be coming into this Olympics, especially after qualifying for five [finals].
"But I physically knew I literally couldn’t do it.”
Biles added, "The other days just wasn’t cleared to do it.
“To be cleared for beam meant a lot.”
— Eurosport (@eurosport) August 3, 2021
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