There was a point last week where Simone Biles was unsure if she would compete in the Olympics again.
The 24-year-old was battling mental health struggles and “the twisties” — something gymnasts experience when they have no sense of where they are in mid-air — but she returned to win the bronze medal in the balance beam this week.
While many thought it could be the last time we see Biles on the Olympic stage, she is “keeping the door open” for a potential return in 2024.
“I think I have to relish and take this Olympics in, and kind of recognize what I’ve done with my career because after 2016, I didn’t get to do that,” she said on “The Today Show.” “Life just happens so quickly and now I have a greater appreciation for life after everything that’s happened in the last five years.”
Biles admitted she thought about withdrawing from the balance beam event — arguably her weakest event — but decided to move forward and was glad she did.
“It definitely feels better than Rio’s bronze medal on beam, but it also shows that I did it for myself, I can go out there and hit another set,” she said. “I was excited to compete in the Olympics again because at the beginning I just thought it was over.”
The pressure of winning was taking a toll on her mental health, as well as a case of “the twisties” limiting her in what she could accomplish.
Biles also revealed after winning the bronze that her aunt had unexpectedly died two days earlier.
“You have no idea of what these athletes are going through as well as [in] their sports,” Biles told reporters.
Whether or not Biles competes again, she leaves Tokyo with two more medals (taking silver in the team event) and now has seven Olympic medals in her career — tied for the most by an American female gymnast.
“Not at all how I imagined or dreamed my second olympics would go but blessed to represent the usa,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’ll forever cherish this unique Olympic experience. Thanks everyone for the endless love and support. I’m truly grateful.”