After a two-year absence from international competition, Simone Biles roared back in 2023, including at the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Belgium over the weekend. She collected five medals — four golds and one silver — bringing her total to 37 medals in Olympic and world competitions.
She is now the most decorated gymnastics champion, male or female, in U.S. history — and in the world.
“I had to prove to myself that I could still get out here, twist,” Biles said at a post-competition press conference, The Guardian reports. “I could prove all the haters wrong, that I’m not a quitter, this, that and the other … As long as I’m out there twisting again and finding the joy for gymnastics again, who cares?”
Two of Biles’ golds were for individual events, balance beam and floor exercise, and one for the full women’s team. Biles also won the all-around gold, her sixth all-around, at worlds. She snagged a silver in vault.
Biles stepped away from the sport after the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where she suffered a sudden onset of “the twisties.” It’s a dangerous mental condition where athletes lose awareness of their bodies’ position as they soar in the air.
In gymnastics, where athletes perform intricate, twisting flips in their events, a case of the twisties can lead to serious injury. At the Olympics, Biles had a twistie attack in the middle of a vault during team finals — she’d meant to do a vault with 2-1/2 twists, but popped out of her twists when she became disoriented.
Biles largely withdrew from the competition, returning only to compete in the individual balance beam event, where she won bronze.
“I do feel really comfortable with where I’m at right now,” Biles told NBC Sports. “Training, competing, I feel like every day has been a little bit less nerve-wracking just going back out there.”
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