Seven-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles is due to return to competitive gymnastics on Saturday for the first time since pulling out of Tokyo Olympics finals in 2021.
Saturday will mark the 26-year-old Biles’ first competition since August 2021 when she withdrew from the women’s team final in Tokyo after suffering from what is known as the “twisties” – a mental block that causes gymnasts to lose track of their position in midair.
Biles opted not to compete in four individual finals at the Games, but she did return to compete in the balance beam, winning bronze after using a modified dismount in her routine.
The Core Hydration Classic, which will be held in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, is the final opportunity for athletes to qualify for the national championships in San Jose, California, later this month.
The world gymnastics championships are then scheduled to take place between September 30 and October 8 in Antwerp, Belgium.
A sellout crowd is expected on Saturday at Hoffman Estates, where spectators will be eager to not only see Biles’ much-anticipated comeback, but also the likes of returning Olympic gold medalist Sunisa Lee.
Biles is the most decorated gymnast in US history, winning 32 medals across the Olympics and the world championships. Among her medal haul are four golds at the Olympics and 19 golds at the world championships – the most by any gymnast in history.
Although Biles is registered to compete in all four events this weekend, athletes may decide not to compete on an apparatus at any given time.
After a two-year hiatus, Biles is returning to gymnastics as a celebrated advocate for mental health. Even in the months after the Olympics, she said she was still “scared to do gymnastics,” but recently said on Instagram that she is “twisting again. No worries. All is good.”
She has made few public comments about her return to the sport but did express her excitement on social media last month, writing: “Sorry I’ve been a little MIA since the announcement. I’m overwhelmed with all of your messages, support & love! excited to get back out on the competition floor!”
For those accustomed to seeing Biles dominate competitions with ease, her departure in 2021 was an unexpected move. But for some more familiar with the intense physical and psychological demands of the sport, Biles’ decision to opt out of competition was more unprecedented than it was surprising.
Fans and fellow athletes alike are excited to witness the gymnastics great back in action and with the opening ceremony of next year’s Olympics less than a year away, what more is to come for the most decorated US gymnast in history?
How to watch Biles and Lee compete
In the US, CNBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will broadcast the senior women’s sessions on Saturday, while Peacock will stream the competitions simultaneously.
The first senior women’s session takes place from 1 p.m ET to 3 p.m ET, with the platforms broadcasting the session from 2 p.m. ET. Biles takes part in the second session.
From 8 p.m. ET, it is expected that CNBC and Peacock will show Biles competing in the uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault. Those outside of the US can watch the competition via USA Gymnastics YouTube.