Simone Biles says her seventh Olympic medal leaves a sweeter taste than the balance beam bronze she picked up in Rio.
The American gymnastic superstar has been one of the stories of the Games after being forced to withdraw from all but one of her finals due to suffering from a technical and confidence issue known in the sport as the twisties.
But Biles says she was able to adjust her beam dismount during training at the Games in order to get clearance to safely compete in the final, where she nailed her new routine to claim a bronze medal.
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“It definitely feels a little bit sweeter than 2016’s bronze medal,” Biles said.
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“I had to go into training and change my dismount," the American continued in an interview with the BBC. "I pulled out of all my other finals just because I wasn’t cleared to do them – and I didn’t think I was going to be cleared to do beam. Whenever I was sitting down with medical I was shaking I was so nervous.
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“But it just means the world that I can come out here and compete one more time before the Games are over.
On the other ones I physically couldn’t twist in the air, I would just keep crashing. I wasn’t cleared safely to do those things, the mind’s not there. But the beam I could safely do.
“I went into training to see if I could change my dismount, because if not I couldn’t do beam either. We went ahead and did that and that’s what you saw.”
How Biles won bronze
Biles was third up on the beam and was given a huge cheer as she prepared to go through her routine.
Despite her confidence crisis at these Games, the 24-year-old appeared composed as she began her routine with a triple squat spin.
Watch delighted Biles receive bronze medal on the podium after beam
Her back flip was solid and a split jump in cross position also landed well before the highly-anticipated dismount.
And the American attacked her dismount with vigour, pulling off two back flips before cleanly landing a double pike somersault.
Those in attendance roared in approval as Biles landed without incident and many would have thought the routine would have been enough to fire her ahead of China’s Xijing Tang, who scored 14.233.
But the judges did not see it that way as they returned a scorecard of 14.000, putting Biles in the silver medal position.
A delighted and perhaps relieved Biles was hugged by her coach and did not appear too gutted by the prospect of a silver medal.
Before the scores had even been read out, Biles had turned her attention towards her USA team-mate Sunisa Lee – who had already won three medals at Tokyo 2020.
“Confidence, Sunni, you got it,” Biles told Lee as she approached the beam. But it wasn’t to be for Lee as a bad stumble wrecked her chances of gold.
A visibly disappointed Lee scored 13.866 to go into fourth position. Biles was on course to place second until China's Chenchen Guan stepped up and stole the show to win gold and push the American star down into bronze medal position.
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