American gymnastics icon and four-time Olympic gold medal winner Simone Biles is preparing to return to the competitive world of gymnastics at the 2023 US Classic in August.
The 26-year-old star has been absent from competition since her participation in the postponed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which took place in 2021, taking some time off to prioritize her mental health.
Biles made headlines when she chose to withdraw from five out of six finals during the Tokyo games, citing mental health and safety considerations. It remains uncertain whether the celebrated athlete will make an appearance at the upcoming Olympics in Paris next year.
Scheduled for August 4-5, the US Classic serves as a prelude to the national championships. USA Gymnastics emphasized that while Biles has registered, “Registration… does not guarantee participation.”
The highly decorated gymnast first made waves at the 2016 Rio Olympics, bagging four gold medals and one bronze.
After a brief hiatus in 2017, she made a triumphant return, securing nine more world titles in 2018 and 2019. She was a favorite to bring home more gold at the Tokyo 2020 games, which were delayed until 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, Biles decided to withdraw from the Olympic women’s team final after completing her vault and later pulled out from the majority of her finals.
She attributed her decision to the ‘twisties’, a perilous mental phenomenon that causes gymnasts to lose their sense of orientation mid-air.
The American star has been vocal about her experience of abuse at the hands of team doctor Larry Nassar, now serving a life sentence in prison.
In 2021, Biles was honored with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year’s Lifetime Achievement Award and was also awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Joe Biden.