US gymnastics star Simone Biles says winning bronze “definitely sweeter” as she celebrates her comeback after withdrawing from the all-around, vault, asymmetric bars and floor exercise finals.

Biles earned her seventh career Olympic medal - tied with Shannon Miller for the most by an American in gymnastics.
Biles earned her seventh career Olympic medal - tied with Shannon Miller for the most by an American in gymnastics. (Mike Blake / Reuters)

Simone Biles has won a bronze medal in balance beam, her first of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The American gymnastics star finished on Tuesday behind gold medallist Guan Chenchen and silver medallist Tang Xijing both of China.

A week after taking herself out of several competitions to focus on her mental health, Biles drilled a slightly altered routine on Tuesday.

Biles, using a routine that ended with a double-pike dismount - no twisting required - posted a score of 14.000. 

She couldn't spin

A week ago, her internal wires got crossed when she hopped on uneven bars during practice. Suddenly, she couldn’t spin. She could barely move. 

She still doesn’t quite know why. And if she’s being honest, the wires still aren’t reconnected. She’s not sure when they will be.

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“It was something that was so out of my control,” Biles said. 

“But the outcome I had, at end of the day, my mental and physical health is better than any medal. So I couldn’t be mad.”

Biles and coach Cecile Landi adjusted her routine to ease her anxiety, switching out a dismount that required her to twist for one with two simpler backflips instead, a skill she hadn’t done in competition in 12 years, half a lifetime ago. 

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Even with the degree of difficulty lowered, she earned a 14.000, good enough for third behind Chinese teammates Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing.

Guan took the gold with a score of 14.633, ahead of Tang (14.233). 

Biles earned her seventh career Olympic medal - tied with Shannon Miller for the most by an American in gymnastics.

While she hasn’t officially announced her retirement - she’s hinted that she might want to stick around in some fashion until the 2024 Games to honor coaches Laurent and Cecile Landi, who are both French - a long layoff awaits. 

She’s headlining a post-Olympic tour through the fall.

Source: AP