Simone Biles, the renowned gymnastics sensation who made headlines when she withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 due to mental health struggles, is set to make her comeback.
Organizers of the U.S. Classic announced on Wednesday that Biles will be participating in the event, marking her return to competitive gymnastics.
Taking place on August 5 in Illinois, the U.S. Classic will see Biles face off against fellow Olympic hopefuls Jade Carey, Skye Blakely, Jordan Chiles, and Leanne Wong.
This single-day event serves as a qualifier for Nationals and holds significant weight in the selection process for the U.S. Olympic team, alongside the U.S. Olympic Trials scheduled for June next year in Minneapolis.
Biles, who was expected to secure numerous gold medals in the 2021 Olympics, last competed in Tokyo before deciding to withdraw from most of the competition, shedding light on the mental health challenges faced by athletes.
At 26 years old, she currently shares the record for the most Olympic medals won by an American gymnast with Shannon Miller. Additionally, she holds an astonishing 25 World Championship medals, making her the most decorated gymnast in the history of the Gymnastics World Championships. Her remarkable performance at the Rio De Janeiro Olympics in 2016 earned her four gold medals.
Tokyo was poised to be another triumph, but Biles withdrew after experiencing the disorienting condition known as “the twisties,” which impacts gymnasts’ ability to maintain balance while executing flips. While some critics labeled her a “quitter” for withdrawing from the team competition (where the U.S. still secured the silver medal), many athletes praised her decision to prioritize her mental health over performance.
One aspect that remains uncertain is whether Biles is aiming for a spot on the 2024 Paris Olympic Team. The U.S. Women’s gymnastics team had already secured its qualification for Paris after winning gold in the team final at the 2022 World Championships. The team comprised Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Leanne Wong, Shilese Jones, and Skye Blakely, all of whom earned medals in Tokyo. Gabby Douglas, who competed alongside Biles in the 2016 Olympics, has announced her intent to make a comeback and hopes to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games. If successful, Douglas would become the oldest American female gymnast to compete in the Summer Olympics since 1952.
In terms of financial success, Biles achieved significant earnings in 2021. With a total income of $10 million, she ranked fourth on Forbes’ list of highest-paid female athletes. Her inclusion among the top earners marked the first time in over a decade that a gymnast had achieved such a distinction. In 2022, she continued to maintain a prominent position, securing the eighth spot on the list.
The return of Simone Biles to competitive gymnastics is eagerly anticipated by fans worldwide. Her resilience, skill, and commitment to advocating for mental health have solidified her status as an icon in the sport.
As she prepares to take the stage once again, the gymnastics community eagerly awaits her awe-inspiring performances and hopes for her continued success on her remarkable journey.