Simone Biles made her comeback to gymnastics at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship last week in Antwerp, Belgium, completing the refashioned expectations of success.
Biles, who made a household name for herself, is one of most successful and recognizable gymnasts to date. She has made trailblazing history winning multiple awards such as four gold medals during the wold championships in the team, all around, beam and floor competitions- as well as a silver medal in the vault. In her weakest discipline – the uneven bars final – she finished in fifth place. She became the first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike vault at an international competition, ensuring that it will now be named the Biles II in her honor. Biles became the most decorated male or female gymnast ever, surpassing Vitaly Scherbo’s record of 33 overall medals across both the Olympics and the world championships.
Despite all of her attributed success, two years ago Biles faced mental hardship at the Tokyo Olympics. The successful gymnast had to unfortunately pull out of several events suffering from what is known as the “twisties” – a mental block causing a gymnast to lose track of their positions midair. Biles had shown her fallibility on the biggest stage of all. Five months ago, Biles didn’t think she’d ever compete again, she said on X, formerly known as Twitter. She had taken a two-year break after Tokyo to focus on her mental health. During that time, Biles has been open about re-evaluating her relationship with gymnastics. She told NBC in September that she was, “going to therapy, making sure everything is aligned so that I can do the best in the gym and be a good wife, good daughter, good friend, all of the good things.”
Nonetheless, returning to the international stage in Antwerp provided another attribute for her career to date as she re-establishes herself. It was in Antwerp that Biles first announced herself on the world stage 10 years ago, winning her first all-around world title as a prestigious 16-year-old, as well as a gold, silver, and bronze medal in the floor, vault and beam categories. Biles returning to the stage has brought back mass TV ratings for gymnastics because lots of fans wanted to see how she would perform since her leave. Some fans speculated that Biles is “washed up” or might be “too old and muscular” for gymnastics which she proved to be false in Antwerp.
Biles states, “I’m very proud,” on her return to Antwerp. “Especially after the year I had after Tokyo, coming back and just being comfortable and confident in my routines. I couldn’t ask for more,” she told BBC Sport.
Now shifting focus to Paris. Biles has already said that competing at next year’s Paris Olympics is a “path I would love to go (down).” Returning to the biggest stage of all would yet add another dimension to her already incredible legacy.