Why Simone Biles Took A 2 Year Break From Gymnastics

To many, Simone Biles is considered the greatest gymnast of all time. Over her career in the sport, she has earned 25 World Championship medals and seven Olympic medals and isn't done yet. In 2023, Biles is making headlines for getting back on the mat after taking a two-year hiatus which began during the 2020 Summer Olympics, which took place in July 2021 due to the pandemic. Ready to add more medals to her impressive collection, things didn't go as planned for the gymnast, who ended up bowing out of the competition during the women's all-around final. "After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health," read a statement from the International Olympic Committee.

A short while later, Biles completely withdrew from The Games. "I was still struggling with some things. No injury, thankfully. That's why I took a step back because I didn't want to do something silly out there and get injured," she told reporters at the time, according to USA Today. In the following weeks, Biles decided to take an extended period off to focus on her mental health. She has openly spoken about why she was physically unable to compete — and how she got herself back on the (pommel) horse.

Simone Biles had a case of the twisties

During the 2020 Olympic Games, Simone Biles came down with the twisties. According to Health, the term is used to describe a "mental block" that some gymnasts experience. It can cause disorientation, making it dangerous for a gymnast to practice, let alone compete. "The body knows what to do, and motor programs are stored in the brain, but the brain is having trouble accessing those motor programs," Dr. Jamie Shapiro of the University of Denver told the outlet. Meanwhile, Biles recalls "the craziest feeling ever. Not having an inch of control over your body" (per People magazine). Slowly but surely, Biles started getting back to practicing at a local gym in Texas, though she didn't feel quite ready to compete — until now.

In August, Biles made her highly anticipated return to the sport, competing in the Core Hydration Classic. According to CNN, she competed in the uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault, earning first place in three out of four events. "It felt really good," she said after the outing. She was met with cheers as the gold medal was placed around her neck — a familiar feeling that she was  –happy to experience once more. As we inch closer to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, just about everyone is wondering if Biles will compete. Including her.

Simone Biles is taking things one day at a time

Simone Biles clearly has her sights set on the 2024 Olympic Games, but she is doing her best not to think too far ahead. "Right now, I think I should just embrace what happened today, be happy," Biles told curious reporters following her epic comeback at the Classic (via USA Today). "It's just like, when you get married, they ask when you're having a baby. When you come to Classic, they're asking you about the Olympics. I think we're just trying to take it one step at a time, and we'll see," she added. 

In an interview on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" back in September, Biles confirmed that she "will be in Paris" though she wasn't sure if she'd be competing or supporting the rest of Team USA. Flash forward about 11 months, however, and Biles seems to be preparing to make her third Olympic debut; she first made the Olympic team in 2016, competing in Rio alongside Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, Gabby Douglas, and Madison Kocian. Nearly five years later, Biles won two medals in Tokyo, despite withdrawing from the competition early. 

Based on her determination and hard work, something tells us that she's going to be adding to her Olympic collection next summer — and we can't wait to watch.