Simone Biles said she was proud of herself after winning bronze in the beam final at the Tokyo Games in an emotional return to the Olympic gymnastics competition.
The American had not competed since last week’s team final, where she performed on the vault but no other apparatus before saying she wanted to protect her mental health.
After suffering with the ‘twisties’, which gymnasts describe as a kind of mental block, Biles pulled out of the all-around, vault, floor and uneven bars.
The 24-year-old returned for the beam on the final day of artistic gymnastics action at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre and received a warm reception as she stepped into the arena.
And after scoring 14.000 with a solid routine, which ended with a double backward somersault and double pike onto the mat, she jumped up and down in celebration and hugged her rivals.
“I didn’t expect a medal today, I just wanted to go out there for me and that’s what I did.” she said.
“I was proud of myself just to go out there after what I’ve been through.”
China’s Guan Chenchen scored 14.633 to win gold, with compatriot Tang Xijing taking silver (14.233).
Biles, who performed third of the eight finalists, faced a nervous wait before securing the bronze. It is her seventh Olympic medal in total, making her the joint-most decorated American gymnast in history alongside Shannon Miller.
The three-time beam world champion has matched her Rio 2016 bronze on the apparatus.
It is her second medal of the Tokyo Games after Team USA claimed silver behind the Russian Olympic Committee in the women’s team final.
The 32-time Olympic and World Championship medallist said returning to competition was about more than making the podium.
“It definitely feels a little bit sweeter than my 2016 bronze medal,” she said.
She added: “In the other events I physically couldn’t twist in the air, I would just keep crashing and I just wasn’t cleared safely to do those things.
“I pulled out of my other finals just because I wasn’t clear to do them. I didn’t think I was going to be clear to beam, it just means the world that I can come out here and compete one more time before this Games is over.”