Simone Biles capped off her Tokyo journey with a bronze medal in the women’s balance beam on Tuesday. The event, however, may not be the end of her Olympic career.
“I’m keeping the door open,” she said when asked by Hoda Kotb on “TODAY” if the balance beam final was the last time she would compete at the Olympics.
“I think I have to relish and take this Olympics in and recognize what I’ve done with my career because after 2016 I didn’t get to do that.”
Biles began the Tokyo Games in qualification on July 25 and earned a spot in all five individual finals. Things took a turn when she withdrew from the team final on July 27, citing mental and physical health concerns after experiencing the “twisties” in her vault attempt.
“I had no idea where I was in the air. You can literally see it in my eyes in pictures. I was petrified,” Biles said. “I had no idea where I was about to land on — my head, my face, my legs, my arms — I had no idea where I was … and I was really afraid I was going to hurt myself.”
Team USA went on to win silver in the event with Biles supporting from the sideline.
“I thought [withdrawing] was brave of me, too, because if you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would’ve kept pushing through,” she said. “But I’m at the age now where I kind of control my mental and my well-being, and I knew that was the best decision for the team and myself.”
Biles subsequently withdrew from the individual all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor, three of which are events where she won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Her return to the gymnastics stage was announced on Monday, a day before the beam final. She then came out as the third gymnast on the beam and put up a 14.000 score, earning her second medal at the Tokyo Games.
“I’m proud of myself for the way I pushed through and even learned that dismount that I haven’t done in years and put out a good set,” Biles said of her return to competition. “That’s all I really wanted. I wasn’t expecting to walk away with a medal or anything. I just wanted to go out there and do it for myself, and I did.”
Biles will be 27 years old when the 2024 Paris Olympics take place. Should she compete, she will have a chance to build on her seven career Olympic medals, which tie Shannon Miller’s seven for the most by any American woman gymnast.
Whether she competes in Paris or not, Biles takes comfort in knowing she is more than what she does in gymnastics.
“One morning I woke up and I was like, ‘I am more than my medals in gymnastics.’ I am a human being and I have done some courageous things outside of this sport, as well, and I’m not a quitter” she said. “And it took all that realizing to see that because if this situation didn’t happen, I would’ve never seen it that way.”