Simone Biles is back in the game!
For the first time since the 2020 Olympic games, held in Tokyo in 2021, the four-time gold medalist, 26, took the stage at the Core Hydration Classic in Illinois on Saturday.
The Core Hydration Classic is the final qualifying event for the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, which will be held in San Jose, California, on Aug. 24-27. Biles has been crowned the USA Gymnastics all-around national champion seven times, with her most recent victory being in 2021.
A serene looking Biles kicked off Saturday’s competition with a solid uneven bars routine that earned her a score of 14. After finishing the event, she flashed a big smile for the cameras as the crowd cheered.
In the second rotation, Biles competed on beam, clinching a 14.800. Her only error was a large step on landing out of her full-twisting flip. As she waited for her score to post, she could be seen chatting and laughing with her teammates.
She nailed her floor routine — which included a double layout with a half-turn — earning her a score of 14.9. She was set to end the competition with vault, one of her strongest events, putting her in a solid position to win the meet.
This is the first time Biles has competed since the Tokyo Games, which was marked by her notable departure from the team competition and soon after, the all-around and several individual events. The decision was in an effort for Biles to “focus on her mental health,” a statement by USA Gymnastics said.
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Biles, who eventually returned to win a bronze medal in the balance beam final, said her departure was due to something gymnasts call “the twisties.” The term is best described as a phenomenon where athletes lose their understanding of where they are in the air during flips, putting them at risk of injury when they land.
A few weeks after the gymnast confirmed she would be competing at the Core Hydration Classic, she participated in a “Let’s Chat” Q&A on her Instagram Story. In one post, Biles said she was “petrified” to twist after experiencing the phenomenon.
“When the twisties happen, you go right into the gym and work on it…” the athlete wrote. “I took over a year off and THEN came back… So I was petrified.”
She continued, “But I’m fine. I’m twisting again. No worries. All is good.”
In her Instagram Q&A, a follower asked Biles what the hardest event to come back to was following her Olympics experience. She responded, “It’s always bars … mentally and physically.”
In 2022, Biles appeared on the Late Late Show with James Corden, where she said she would attend Paris for the 2024 Olympic Games — but didn’t know if it would be as an “athlete” or “audience member.” She admitted to Corden that she still had some mental recovery to undergo.
During another July Q&A, a fan asked Biles via Instagram how she was “handling the mental side” of her return to gymnastics.
“Lot’s of therapy, I go once a week for almost 2 hrs,” she shared. “I’ve had so much trauma, so being able to work on some of the traumas & work on healing is a blessing.”