Star gymnast Simone Biles, whose projected dominance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics has been hampered by mental health issues and who has not competed since, is apparently planning to return a year before the Paris Olympics.
Biles, 26, is listed among the participants in an event called the US Classic on Aug. 5 near Chicago, a qualifier for the national gymnastics championships on Aug. 24-27 in San Jose, California.
Her entry came without fanfare, and it’s uncertain if she can recapture the form that earned Biles four Olympic gold medals, seven overall, including the all-around title at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.
Many in the sport wondered if Biles would retire from competition after the Tokyo Olympics and start a life outside of gymnastics. In the spring, she married NFL player Jonathan Owens, a defensive back with the Green Bay Packers.
But other gymnastics experts suspect that Biles may try to return to compete on vault, which in some ways requires less training time than other events. Her entry into the US Classic may indicate that Biles feels she is still a force in national and international gymnastics, though USA said that registration for the event “does not guarantee participation.”
Biles’ inclusion in the roster, along with past champions and current contenders, does not firmly announce her intention to compete in Paris, but it does make it possible. Her coaches are French, and she has previously stated that it would be an honor to win a medal for them in their home country.
In Tokyo, Biles was expected to win at least three individual events as she attempted to become the first gymnast to repeat being an all-around Olympic champion in over half a century. She is highly promoted as the most anticipated star of those games.
Biles was also among the gymnasts who fell victim to Lawrence J. She and others have publicly criticized USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee in ways that break with the sport’s traditions that encourage athletes to remain silent during competition.
Once the Tokyo Games began, the overwhelming pressure and expectations seemed to wear on Biles, and she lost her ability to locate her spatial awareness in the air, a potentially dangerous condition known in gymnastics as “contortions.”
She withdrew from the team finals and did not compete in the individual all-around competition. Biles said at the time that she was shivering and unable to nap, described herself as not in the proper “head space” to continue and concerned with injuring herself. “It’s annoying when you’re fighting with your head,” she said.
She remained determined, though, and on the final day of the gymnastics competition in Tokyo, Biles gathered her composure and won a bronze medal on balance beam with a modified routine. “I didn’t expect to get a medal,” she said at the time. “I was going over there to do this for me.” “Having another chance to participate in the Olympics means the world to me,” she added.
While Biles has faced some criticism for withdrawing from several events in Tokyo, she has been widely embraced for her candor in discussing her mental health and acknowledging her vulnerability.
Along with other athletes such as swimmer Michael Phelps, tennis player Naomi Osaka, figure skater Gracie Gould, and basketball players DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love, Biles rejected the long tradition of stoicism in sports and represented a cultural shift in the willingness by sports stars to speak out about anxiety, depression, and stress. .
Belloc, president of Barnard College in New York (and now president of Dartmouth), a cognitive scientist who studies athletes, entrepreneurs, and students and why they succumb to stress, said of Biles during the Tokyo Games: “I applaud the fact that she was able to make sure she wasn’t in a good frame of mind.” And back off. What a hard thing to do. There was a lot of pressure to keep going. And she was able to find the strength to say, “No, that’s not right.”
The willingness of Beals and others to speak up, Belloc said, confirms that mental health issues affect everyone.
Juliet McCorm Contribute to the preparation of reports.
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