After a focus on her own mental health and that of other athletes, U.S. gymnast Simone Biles will return to elite competition.
Biles will begin with the Aug. 5 U.S. Classic outside of Chicago, the Associated Press reported. She has not competed since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, held in 2021, where she removed herself from several events because of a mental health struggle.
Biles, 26, is a seven-time Olympic medalist and the 2016 Olympic champion. She has taken most of the past two years off while advocating for athletes to be able to protect their mental health, the AP reported.
In the interim, she also got married to NFL player Jonathan Owens, a defensive back for the Green Bay Packers, this spring.
In Tokyo, after withdrawing from events, Biles cheered for her American teammates before returning for the balance beam final.
At the time, Biles explained her withdrawal by saying she had “the twisties,” a term used in gymnastics to indicate that the athlete has lost spatial awareness in the air.
The U.S. Classic typically is considered a warmup for the national championships, which will be held in late August, the AP reported.
Biles previously returned to the Classic in 2018 after a two-year hiatus following her wildly successful 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
While she was the center of attention prior to Tokyo, Biles now appears to be more subdued leading up to the Paris Olympics next year. Her social media channels are nearly free of gymnastics content, instead focusing on her personal life.
American gymnast Sunisa Lee, who won gold in the all-around final in Tokyo, will be at the U.S. Classic, too.
Lee has spent two years competing at Auburn, but missed the second half of her sophomore year because of health issues, the AP reported. She may also be at the Paris Olympics, trying for gold on the uneven bars.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has more on athletes and mental health.
SOURCE: Associated Press, June 28, 2023
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