'I did it for me': Simone Biles shows tremendous courage to win Olympic beam bronze

Gold and silver for China as Biles overcomes Tokyo struggles to repeat bronze medal she won at Rio 2016

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Simone Biles ended her tumultuous Tokyo Olympics experience on a high note as she returned to competition to win bronze in the balance beam competition on Tuesday.

The final gold of the women's artistic gymnastics programme went to China's Guan Chenchen with a score of 14.633 and the silver to her compatriot Tang Xijing, but it was Biles who grabbed the spotlight by courageously returning to competition following struggles with her mental health.

"I was proud of myself just to go out there after what I've been through," said Biles, who arrived in Tokyo having already won four golds and a bronze in Rio five years ago.

"This one is definitely sweeter. I'll treasure this one a lot more after everything I have been through."

The American, 24, had withdrawn from five of six events in Tokyo as she struggled to overcome a severe bout of "the twisties" - a condition that afflicts gymnasts leaving them disoriented during their gravity-defying sequences.

A three-time world champion on the beam, Biles' bronze - a repeat of the medal she won at Rio 2016 - was considered a victory after a dramatic Tokyo Games in which she abruptly dropped out of the team competition last Tuesday after performing just one vault citing mental health issues.

The 24-year-old came to Tokyo eyeing a record haul of six golds, which would have made her the most successful female Olympian of all-time across any sport, but instead suffered a crisis of confidence that led to her withdrawing from the all-around, vault, asymmetric bars and floor exercise finals.

"I was just happy to be able to perform regardless of the outcome. I did it for me and I was proud of myself for being able to compete one more time," said Biles, who revealed her aunt died two days ago.

"Just to have one more opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games meant the world.

"Training for five years and then coming here, and then kind of being triggered and not being able to do anything, it wasn't fun."

A visibly relaxed Biles blew kisses to the television cameras as she entered the arena for her final shot at a medal.

After a quick hug from her coach and deep breath, Biles stepped up to the beam with a look of determination, although shorn of the imperialism that had seen her win a record 25 world championship medals, including 19 golds, as well as four Olympic golds and a bronze at Rio 2016.

Biles showcased several complex skills with a triple spin in the squat position. But as she prepared to get ready for her dismount, everyone held their breath willing the American to make a safe landing.

She did just that, pulling off a double-piked somersault dismount, much to the delight of those in the arena, in Tokyo and probably the rest of the world.

She broke out into a huge smile and clutched her heart as soon as she completed her routine before performing a delightful jig after hugging her coach.

Her routine earned the triple world champion on the apparatus 14.000 points.

"I had nerves but I felt pretty good," she said.

"I was a little bit nervous for the dismount just because we had to switch it and I probably haven't done a double pike dismount since I was 12 years old, so it was kind of hard to control that.

"But to go out there and compete one more time and have everybody's support meant the world.

It takes Biles' Olympic medal collection to seven, equalling Shannon Miller's record for an American gymnast. She may have missed out on a shot at becoming the greatest female Olympian, but Biles arguably achieved something even greater just by competing again.

Updated: August 03, 2021, 12:04 PM