Simone Biles sat with her back against the balance beam as if she wanted to avoid facing her competition career’s end — or resumption. What was she thinking?
Nervous energy pulsated through her left leg. Did she worry about returning to the sport, in front of everyone, and back into the head-over heels test of human limits that Olympic gymnastics is? After seven days as both a target for far-right critics, and an example to mental health advocates, was she just eager to become an Olympic gymnast?
She gave her reply in about the same time as it took to fill a full tank of gasoline.
Biles’ final balance beam routine was not her best as a gymnast but it was certainly one of her most memorable as an Olympian. Because she is an accomplished Black woman, it was easy for media hackers to mock her. She rose above all the noise. Her sudden hesitation about throwing herself into space was a similar one to that we observe in almost every sport, but with potentially devastating consequences in this case.
Biles was on the bottom rung as China’s national anthem was being played. She had her mask partially covering her face but her smile still visible. Bronze was her result. She was third in beam for the second time. This gave her seven medals total, which tied Shannon Miller to be the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnast.
More: How to avoid the dangers inherent in gymnastics’ ‘twisties.
She earned 14.000 points, which is lower than the score she received in qualification for these Games and far less than the 15.066 that was awarded the title at 2019 World Championships. Although it is hard for anyone other than an expert in gymnastics to judge whether judges are fair and accurate, Simone Biles’ routine felt at least slightly damaged.
Reporters were told that this bronze medal was better than Rio’s four-year-old one because she felt she had performed a “good beam routine” before starting.
Biles said that it means more than the golds, adding, “because my life has been so hard the past five years and for the last week even though I haven’t been here.”
Biles was the most famous of the 613 Team USA members when she arrived to the Olympics. People who were paid to learn such things considered her the best gymnast ever. Since she was eligible for senior competition in 2013, she had never lost an all-around world competition. She is the main star of women’s gymnastics and NBC has made her the focal point of its Olympic and Olympic-adjacent programs.
It was evident that something wasn’t quite right from the second she entered the gym, just before the Games began. She was not up to her standards in qualifying. In vault, which she had essentially recreated many times over her career, she struggled to get in place. When she attempted to do one of her most difficult tumbles, she fell off the entire floor.
DECOURCY: Imagine walking for miles in Simone Biles’ Air Jordans.
Although it was shocking for her to withdraw from the team competition on the evening of the team competition, the reaction by so many was amazing. Biles was criticized by many for not even doing a one-handed somersault, which cost them the chance to win a medal. They lacked a basic understanding of gymnastics. A poor performance from Biles could have cost them points, and possibly knocked them off their podium.
Biles explained that the “mental health issue” she faced was what gymnasts call the “twisties”, similar to golf’s “yips”. Biles could have missed two-foot putts due to a mental block but she was more likely to land on her neck, crown or head from disorientation. Not just double-bogey, but paralysis and death may be possible.
Despite all the discussion about how Biles cost her team, we are curious as to what opportunities her absence created at various events.
Suni Lee, the Olympic all-around champion, would be less well known than other gymnasts like Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comaneci. Biles, too.
More: Simone Biles’ Olympic medal history
MyKayla skinner would not have brought back a medal. Because teams can only have two entries in each discipline, she was not part the U.S. four-person squad that won a silver medal. Skinner was able to compete in that event after Biles pulled out. She earned a silver-medal.
Biles qualified for all four events, but she chose to only compete in the balance beam. Although it wasn’t her favorite event, she found that she was comfortable enough to try. She looked like she had never left that little piece of wood after she got up on it.
We all know that Biles is almost certain to quit competition following these Olympics. It would be nice for Biles to have been permitted to remain up there for just a couple more minutes. This is gymnastics. This is fast. After completing a last tumbling race across the beam, she performed a double-pike unmount. She stayed on the mat with her feet.
Simone Biles left the sport that she had dominated and she landed. There are so many.
Publiated at Tue 03 Aug 2021, 14:23:06 (+0000).