Simone Biles Is Making A Major Comeback After A Much-Needed Mental Health Break
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Simone Biles Is Making A Major Comeback After A Much-Needed Mental Health Break

Simone Biles made a comeback to the world of gymnastics at the 2023 Core Hydration Classic, and it’s clear that she hasn’t missed a beat.

In a post-competition interview, Biles opened up about her focus on mental health during her time away from the sport, which in turn has allowed her to be in a better mental space overall.

“I feel really good about where I am right now, mentally and physically,” Biles shared with reporters after completing her event. While she expressed that she was “really nervous to compete” after her two-year hiatus, she notes that taking a mental break has had a positive impact on her recovery. “You kind of have to take that mental break because if not, obviously, your body will decide for you, and that’s kind of what mine did in Tokyo.”

During the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Biles expressed mental health concerns known as the "twisties," a phenomenon where gymnasts experience a disconnect between their mind and body — or spinal awareness — while performing complex aerial maneuvers, which can result in serious injuries.

“It was the worst timing, but obviously, I’m really happy with what happened because I got to go and work on myself,” the four-time gold medallist adds. “I’m still continuing to work on myself and go to therapy and make sure that everything is all in line so at that in the gym, we can focus on gym.”

Biles' decision to prioritize her well-being and safety over competition was met with both support and criticism online. A reality that caused her to preserve her peace and take a step back from online discourse. “I think I feel a lot better because I’ve found ways to manage that — like deleting Twitter, not trying to look at it,” she told reporters. “There are really nice comments — you have your supporters, you have your fans, like your day-ones. And then you have those really nasty ones that can get to you.”

Her withdrawal from the Olympics sparked a global conversation about the importance of mental health in sports and the immense pressure that elite athletes face. Biles' openness about her struggles encouraged a number of other athletes to share their own experiences and highlighted the need for better support systems for athletes' mental well-being.

“I feel grateful that I get this opportunity to come back out here and to compete in front of a crowd because I truly didn’t believe that I’d be back here competing at all,” she adds.

During her time off, Biles has kept herself busy by getting back on the mat, “trying to get fit again,” and focusing on her newlywed status with her NFL husband, Jonathan Owens.

While Biles says she’s not aiming to look too far ahead to the 2024 Paris Olympics, her current focus is on “living in the moment” and trusting herself in the sport again. “Right now, I think I should just embrace what happened today, be happy,” she says. “I think we’re just trying to take it one step at a time.”

“Kind of taking a fresh start in everything. Still going out there and talking about mental health and talking to all of the other athletes and supporting them on their journeys as well.”

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Feature image by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

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