Image Source: Getty / Laurence Griffiths
The GOAT is back. On June 28, USA Gymnastics announced that Simone Biles is returning to the mat for the first time in two years. The seven-time Olympic gold medalist will make her comeback at the 2023 US Classic, held on August 4-5 at the Now Arena outside of Chicago. “A trio of Olympic Gold Medalists headline the list of athletes registered for the 2023 U.S. Classic,” USA Gymnastics captioned a photo of Biles, Jade Carey, and Suni Lee on Instagram.
The competition will mark Biles’s first competitive gymnastics meet since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021. The athlete notably chose to withdraw from the Olympic competition due to a mental block commonly referred to as the “twisties.” “not at all how I imagined or dreamed my second olympics would go but blessed to represent the usa,” she shared in an Instagram post in August 2021. “I’ll forever cherish this unique olympic experience. thanks everyone for the endless love and support. I’m truly grateful.”
In the lead-up to the Olympics, athletes are expected to push themselves to their limits, physically and mentally, with little to no consideration for their wellbeing. Bile’s decision to prioritize her mental health over medals sparked an international conversation about the overall safety and wellbeing of athletes. Women athletes, in particular — including Lee and Naomi Osaka — have been more outspoken in recent years about safeguarding their mental health.
After her exit from the games, Biles received overwhelming amounts of “love and support” from friends, family, and fans. “The outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,” Biles wrote on Twitter in response to her fans’ solidarity.
Since Tokyo, the gymnast has continued to advocate for athletes’ mental health and cheer on her teammates. She also married NFL safety Jonathan Owens in April, splitting the event into two separate celebrations in Houston and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
As Biles prepares for the US Classics, fans are hopeful that her return to the mat is an indication that she will compete alongside her team at the 2024 Paris Olympics.