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Simone Biles returns to gymnastics dominance after two-year mental health break

Simone Biles made a return to sporting dominance on Saturday night, topping the podium on her gymnastics comeback.

She competed in Chicago’s US classic, two years after taking a break following the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

The four-time gold medallist showed off her tumbling, spinning and flipping routines, famous for being so difficult that no other gymnasts have ever replicated it, as if she had never been away.

There were cheers across the Illinois arena as she climbed on to the podium, with the 26-year-old saying: “It just makes my heart warm because it’s nice to come out here and have all that support, especially in a time like this where I was really nervous to compete again.”

It comes after she suffered from a phenomenon known as the “twisties” during the Tokyo games, which forced her to pull out of a number of events.

The condition is characterised as a temporary struggle with spatial awareness.

Read more: How Olympic star overcame childhood hunger and sexual abuse to become world’s greatest gymnast

During her two-year-long break, she announced she would be working on her mental health, and in that time has given evidence to Congress over the abuse she suffered at the hands of disgraced doctor Larry Nassar.

She also married former NFL star Jonathan Owens during her break.

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September 2021: Biles breaks down as she speaks of ‘horrific abuse’

However, she told reporters in Chicago: “I’m still continuing to work on myself and go to therapy.

“I think I’m in better shape than I was in 2021 – I think that goes mentally and physically.”

The event in Chicago is just a year away from the next Olympic Games in Paris, but Biles has not yet committed to competing out there for Team USA, instead saying she is focussed on the national championships later this month.

Simone Biles performs in the floor exercise at the U.S. Classic gymnastics competition Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023, in Hoffman Estates, Ill. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Image:
Pic: AP

Simone Biles performs in the floor exercise at the U.S. Classic gymnastics competition Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023, in Hoffman Estates, Ill. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Image:
Pic: AP

“Who knows, I’m not going to think too far ahead,” she said.

“Right now I think I should just embrace what happened today [and] be happy.”

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