For once, the taking part really was more important than the winning. A proud Simone Biles walked away with a bronze after facing down her demons in her final Olympic outing and declared: “I did it for me.” The 24-year-old Texan, performing third, put in a nerveless performance on the beam, the final event of the women’s program, with a routine that included a series of flips and somersaults and a double-pike dismount—but none of the twists she’s been struggling with at the Tokyo Games. Awarded a score of 14.000, Biles had to sit through the rest of the competition to find out whether that would be enough to secure a medal. The 16-year-old Chinese sensation Guan Chenchen grabbed gold with a score of 14.633, ahead of teammate Tang Xijing.
It was Biles’ seventh Olympic medal, counting the silver she won in the team event in Tokyo despite dropping out after the vault. “I wasn’t expecting to medal,” she said. “To have one more opportunity to be at the Olympics meant the world to me. Training for five years and then coming here, and then kind of being triggered and not being able to do anything, it wasn’t fun.”
“I was a little bit nervous for the dismount just because we had to switch it and I probably haven’t done a double-pike dismount since I was 12 years old, so it was kind of hard to control that. But to go out there and compete one more time and have everybody’s support meant the world.”