TOKYO — U.S. Gymnastics star Simone Biles will compete in the balance beam finals at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday after withdrawing from several competitions over the past week to focus on her mental health.
“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,” USA Gymnastics tweeted in confirming the news.
The 24-year-old, who is considered the world’s best gymnast, withdrew from several competitions after the toll of the Tokyo Games forced her to take a step back.
“Physically, I feel good. I’m in shape,” Biles told the “TODAY” show. “Emotionally, it varies on the time and moment. Coming to the Olympics and being head star isn’t an easy feat.”
Biles is a four-time gold medalist and was expected to dominate the Tokyo Games but instead has become a key figure in the ongoing conversation on mental health.
Since she withdrew from several competitions, Biles has been the target of attacks of being called a quitter. Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz deleted a tweet calling out Biles, calling her a “national embarrassment” and was just one of a handful of Republicans who called out the 24-year-old.
“Contrast this with our selfish, childish national embarrassment,” Reitz wrote in a now-deleted tweet. He later would apologize for his actions.
Biles took to Instagram to defend herself from the criticism.
“For anyone saying I quit, I didn’t quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here,” she wrote Friday in an Instagram post. “I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.”