ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Simone Biles begins comeback to the beat of Noa Kirel’s ‘Unicorn’

‘I feel really good about where I am right now, mentally and physically, ‘ US gymnast says after coming in first place overall in first meet since Tokyo Olympics

Simone Biles warms up at the U.S. Classic gymnastics competition Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023, in Hoffman Estates, Ill. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Simone Biles warms up at the U.S. Classic gymnastics competition Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023, in Hoffman Estates, Ill. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles made a triumphant return to gymnastics after a two-year hiatus on Saturday, dominating the US Classic to the beat of Israeli pop star Noa Kirel’s Eurovision hit “Unicorn.”

Kirel finished in third place in the annual European song competition in May.

Accompanied by the track, and with her confidence growing with every rotation, Biles soared to victory in her first meet since the Tokyo Games in 2021, where she struggled with mental health issues and the “twisties” — a disorienting feeling while in mid-air that leaves gymnasts at greater injury risk when landing.

She was affected early in the Olympic team competition, and pulled out of the all-around plus the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise disciplines before taking bronze on the balance beam.

Her comeback on Saturday saw her reach an all-around score of 59.100, five points better than runner-up Leann Wong.

It was made all the more remarkable by the fact she hadn’t really poured herself into preparing until after her wedding to Green Bay Packers safety Jonathan Owens in late April.

“I feel really good about where I am right now, mentally and physically,” Biles said. “I still think there are some things to work on in my routines, but for the first meet back, I would say it went pretty well. I’m very shocked. Surprised.”

She posted the best score on three of four events, turning what is typically a tune-up meet for the US Championships into a demonstration that she remains — when she’s at or near her best — a singular force in her sport.

While she admitted she is still a little nervous while doing the twisting elements in her routines, she certainly looked comfortable during two hours that offered a taste of what could come in the run-up to Paris next summer.

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