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Simone Biles reveals family tragedy after dramatic Olympic return

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Simone Biles prevailed with a bronze medal on the balance beam at the 2021 Olympics on Tuesday after the USA gymnastics star not only battled through the strain on her mental health and a case of the "twisties," but the recent death of her aunt.

It was already an eventful trip to Tokyo for Biles, who suddenly withdrew from the gymnastic team final and subsequently pulled out of the first three apparatus finals before defending her bronze medal on beam Tuesday.

Simone Biles won the bronze medal in the balance beam on Aug. 3, 2021. AP

"It wasn't easy pulling out of all those competitions," Biles told reporters, per The Guardian. "People just thought it was easy, but I physically and mentally was not in the right head space and I didn't want to jeopardize my health and my safety because at the end of the day, it's not worth it.

"My mental and physical health is above all medals that I could ever win. So to be clear, to do beam, which I didn't think I was going to be, just meant the world to be back out there. And I wasn't expecting to walk away with the medal. I was just going out there doing this for me."

Biles told reporters that her aunt on her father's side "unexpectedly passed."

"That was another one, I was like, 'Oh my God. This week needs to be over,' " Biles' coach Cecile Canqueteau-Landi told People. "I asked her what do you need.

"And she said, 'I just need some time.' I said, 'You call me, text me if you need anything I'll be here. Whatever that is.' She called her parents. She said, 'There's nothing I can do from over here. So I'm just going to finish my week and when I get home we'll deal with it.' "

Simone Biles won the bronze medal in the balance beam on Aug. 3, 2021. EPA

The twisties are a common issue gymnasts face that causes a lack of air awareness.  

The 24-year-old Biles said she had only been cleared to compete in the beam, which requires minimal twisting, after getting evaluated by Team USA's training staff. She posted a solid 14.000 score, which slotted her in third behind China's 1-2 finish in Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing, respectively.  

After a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes in her first events, Biles watered down her beam routine and downgraded her dismount from the "Biles" - a double-twisting double tuck - to a double pike.

Simone Biles won the bronze medal in the balance beam on Aug. 3, 2021. AP

"I had nerves but I felt pretty good," said Biles, who is now tied with Shannon Miller for the most Olympic medals by a US gymnast. "I was a little bit nervous for the dismount just because we had to switch it and I probably haven't done a double pike dismount since I was 12 years old, so it was kind of hard to control that.

"But to go out there and compete one more time and have everybody's support meant the world."

After igniting a discussion about athletes' mental health, Biles quickly became the headlining story of the Games. While some praised Biles for putting her mental wellness first, others criticized her for abandoning her team, which ended up with a silver medal instead of the anticipated gold.

Simone Biles won the bronze medal in the balance beam on Aug. 3, 2021. REUTERS

"I think it should be talked about a lot more, especially with athletes, because I know some of us are going through the same things and we're always told to push through it," she said. "But we're all a little bit older now and we can kind of speak for ourselves.

"At the end of the day, we're not just entertainment, we're humans and there are things going on behind the scenes that we're also trying to juggle with as well on top of sports."

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