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US gymnastics star Simone Biles to return for balance beam finals

Coach Laurent Landi embraces Simone Biles, after she exited the team final with apparent injury, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Coach Laurent Landi embraces Simone Biles, after she exited the team final with apparent injury, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

TOKYO — Simone Biles is back.

The 2016 Olympic gymnastics champion will return to competition in the balance beam final tomorrow, a little over a week after stepping away from the meet to focus on her mental health.

“We are so excited to confirm that you will see two US athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!” USA Gymnastics says in a statement.

The 24-year-old Biles won bronze on beam in Rio de Janeiro five years ago and qualified for the eight-woman final at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on the first weekend of the Games.

She removed herself from the team final on July 27 after a shaky performance on vault during the first rotation. She watched from the sidelines as her three American teammates completed the meet without her; the US took silver behind the team known as the Russian Olympic Committee.

The six-time Olympic medalist later said she was dealing with issues surrounding air awareness, referred to as “the twisties” in her sport.

Biles qualified for all five individual event finals but took herself out of four of them: the all-around, vault, floor exercise and uneven bars. Lee earned the gold in the all-around, becoming the fifth straight American to claim the sport’s marquee title.

Considered to be the greatest gymnast of all-time and the unquestioned face of the US Olympic movement when she arrived in Japan, Biles continued to train and be evaluated daily by the USA Gymnastics staff after opting out of multiple finals. She has also been a fixture in the stands supporting Lee, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey while they competed in the event finals.

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