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Simone Biles wins bronze medal in Olympic beam final

Simone Biles wins bronze medal in Olympic beam final
Posted at 4:00 AM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 07:52:05-04

If there is a sudden drop in the temperature in Tokyo, it's because of the ice in Simone Biles' veins. 

The four-time Olympic gold medalist returned to the competition floor in the Ariake Arena for the first time since the team final event to compete for an individual medal on the balance beam. It was her last chance at making an Olympic podium in Tokyo after she previously withdrew from five other individual event finals, and she had to adapt her routine to work around a case of the "twisties," a phenomenon gymnasts experience in which they feel a disconnect between their body and mind while performing skills that include twists.

The solution was to ditch the full-twisting double back tuck Biles has performed as her beam dismount for years and replace it with a double back pike that she hadn't competed or trained consistently before these Games. Despite just recently switching to the piked dismount, the 24-year-old executed it perfectly off the beam and had only a hop backward on her landing. Her score of 14.000 placed her in third, earning her a second bronze medal on the event after she also finished third on beam in Rio.

"It's not easy giving up a dream of five years and not getting to do it. It was really, really hard," Biles told the media after the competition. "I've never been in the stands, so I just wasn't used to it so to have one more opportunity to compete meant the world."

China's Guan Chenchen was the last competitor of the final and posted the highest score, a 14.633, to win gold. Her teammate Tang Xijing finished second with a 14.233 to give China its first two medals in women's artistic gymnastics of the Tokyo Games. 

In her last routine of the Tokyo Olympics, Suni Lee performed a beam set that was solid up until her flight series. She was off center on the third element of her aerial layout step-out layout step-out connection but fought to stay on the beam and had a strong finish. She placed fifth with a 13.866 and leaves Japan with three medals after winning gold in the all-around, silver with Team USA and bronze in the uneven bars.

Biles' bronze brought her career total to seven Olympic medals, which ties her with two-time Olympian Shannon Miller as the most decorated American gymnast in history.