Simone Biles will compete for the first time at the U.S. Classic since the pandemic affected the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, according to AP News.
The U.S. Classic is one of the major competitions on USA Gymnastics’ annual calendar and frequently serves as a prelude to the national championships, which are this year scheduled to take place in San Jose.
This would be Simone’s first competition following the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 when she raised awareness of athletes’ struggles with mental health on a global scale.
After struggling with the “twisties,” a gymnastics term for an athlete experiencing a mental block in mid-air that makes it difficult to complete a move, Biles has taken some time off during the last two years.
According to Sports Illustrated, it is extremely risky for competitors to perform numerous challenging maneuvers in the air, because any gymnast battling the loss of spatial awareness in mid-air puts themselves in danger.
Simone’s withdrawal from the team finals shocked the gymnastics community. She claimed that the emotional toll of the Tokyo Games, rather than a physical injury, was what caused her decision, per NBC News.
The 26-year-old artistic gymnast was a surprise success at the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning gold in the vault, floor exercise, team all-around, and individual all-around, as well as bronze on the balance beam.
Simone’s return to the sport she prevailed in for almost ten years suggests an athlete who wants to leave on her own terms, even though the discussion surrounding the matter is constantly changing.
After her record-breaking performance at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, she used the U.S. Classic as a comeback competition in 2018, according to ABC 7.
With the Paris Games less than a year away, AP News notes that it appears Simone is adopting a more reserved stance. She has largely avoided mentioning gymnastics on her various social media platforms, choosing to highlight details of her private life instead.
Simone is the all-time most decorated gymnast with 25 medals from the world championships. President Joe Biden presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year, making her the youngest recipient of the nation’s highest civilian honor at age 25.