Tokyo Olympics: Simone Biles insists she’s ‘delighted’ to be back home after reuniting with family

Simone Biles has said she is ‘delighted’ to be home in the US after her tumultuous appearance at the Tokyo Olympics – as she enjoyed an emotional surprise reunion with her parents.  

The 24-year-old flew into Houston on Thursday and was welcomed at the airport by crowds of supporters and relatives, including her parents, Ronald and Nellie, and her sister, Rachel.

Biles shared images of herself embracing her mother and father at the airport on Instagram, revealing that their appearance in the terminal came as a welcome surprise. 

‘Houston, I’m home,’ she wrote, before thanking United Airlines, for which she serves as a spokesperson for ‘making sure I didn’t have to wait one more minute to see my family’.   

Simone Biles had an emotional embrace with her father as she landed back in the US

Simone Biles had an emotional embrace with her father as she landed back in the US

Simone Biles had an emotional embrace with her father as she landed back in the US

Biles, pictured cuddling her mother Nellie, insisted she is delighted to be home after Olympics

Biles, pictured cuddling her mother Nellie, insisted she is delighted to be home after Olympics

Biles, pictured cuddling her mother Nellie, insisted she is delighted to be home after Olympics

Carrying a bouquet of flowers, Biles spoke very briefly with local media, with Houston TV station KHOU-11 reporting that she spoke of a simple dietary request, saying: ‘We want to have some steaks.’

The legendary gymnast’s best friend Rachel told the station: ‘Very, very emotional. Good to have her back.’

Ron, 71, and his wife Nellie, 66, are actually Biles’ grandparents, however they adopted the athlete and her sister Adria after they were taken away from their birth mother, Shanon, who suffered from drug and alcohol addiction and spent time in jail, leading to her children being placed in foster care when Biles was just three years old.

She was adopted by Nellie and Ron three years later and refers to them both as her ‘parents’.

After leaving the airport Biles headed to her nearby home town of Spring in a convertible, cheered on by numerous fans who lined the road holding placards of support.

Her homecoming followed her dramatic appearance at the Games, which was mired by withdrawals, psychological counselling and family tragedy.  

Biles had arrived with the expectation of equaling or even surpassing the historic four gold medals she won in Rio in 2016, however her quest for further Olympic glory was blighted by mental health struggles.

After a relatively underwhelming qualification process, the gymnast admitted that she was experiencing a mental block known as ‘the twisties’ – a phenomenon which temporarily affects an athlete’s spatial awareness and can result in serious injury. 

The US gymnastics star endured a difficult Olympics, but did win a medal in the beam final

The US gymnastics star endured a difficult Olympics, but did win a medal in the beam final

The US gymnastics star endured a difficult Olympics, but did win a medal in the beam final

She withdrew from multiple events due to her mental health, but did win the silver on beam

She withdrew from multiple events due to her mental health, but did win the silver on beam

She withdrew from multiple events due to her mental health, but did win the silver on beam

Daily medical evaluations and two sessions with Team USA sports psychologist led to Biles being withdrawn from her finals until she was eventually cleared for the balance beam, theoretically the least risky of the apparatus and one which can be performed with the minimum impact on spatial elements. 

She took a bronze medal in the beam, to go with her silver from the team competition. 

Biles also revealed her paternal aunt had died suddenly during the first week of the Games, with her coach, Cecile Landi, revealing during a press conference that the family tragedy had made an already-tough week ‘hell’. 

Landi also said that Biles was planning to undergo therapy upon her arrival back in the US, revealing the gymnast had been ‘openly talking about it’ in Tokyo.  

As Biles and the other Team USA gymnasts touched down in America, it was revealed that she’d had to spend several days in Tokyo training in ‘secret’ in a facility located an hour outside of the city so that she could try and work through her mental health issues away from prying eyes.  

On Wednesday, the gymnast posted a touching tribute to the university that afforded her use of its training center, saying that she would be ‘forever thankful’ to the college and its staff. 

‘I’ll forever be thankful for Juntendo for allowing me to come train separately to try to get my skills back,’ she wrote, before adding of her experience in Tokyo: ‘The Japanese are some of, if not the sweetest people I’ve ever met.’

According to the Wall Street Journal, Juntendo professor Kazuhiro Aoki received a call from Biles’ trainers on Wednesday morning asking whether she would be able to use the university’s gym facility, which is located an hour outside of Tokyo. 

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Biles had spent several days secretly training in a facility located one hour outside of Tokyo, where she attempted to overcome her mental health issues

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Biles had spent several days secretly training in a facility located one hour outside of Tokyo, where she attempted to overcome her mental health issues

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Biles had spent several days secretly training in a facility located one hour outside of Tokyo, where she attempted to overcome her mental health issues 

Tribute: The 24-year-old gymnast praised Juntendo University on Twitter, thanking the college for allowing her to train in its gym, one hour outside of Tokyo, away from private eyes

Tribute: The 24-year-old gymnast praised Juntendo University on Twitter, thanking the college for allowing her to train in its gym, one hour outside of Tokyo, away from private eyes

Tribute: The 24-year-old gymnast praised Juntendo University on Twitter, thanking the college for allowing her to train in its gym, one hour outside of Tokyo, away from private eyes

The gym had already been used by Team USA upon their arrival in Japan, before they moved into the official Olympic facilities.

‘This is a complicated matter,’ Aoki was told over the phone. ‘But this is for Biles.’ 

He revealed to the publication that the gymnast began training in his gym just two hours after the call was made, explaining that staff locked all of the doors so that Biles could be sure nobody would see her struggling through her routines. 

‘She practiced for two hours that day,’ the WSJ reported. ‘Then she came back for three more days. Each time, Aoki said, she was accompanied by her coaches and a medical provider.’

According to the professor, who was able to catch a glimpse of the gymnast at work, Biles looked ‘like a totally different person’ to the gymnast he saw earlier in July, and he remarked that she ‘often got frozen’ while practicing her skills.

The call from Biles’ coaches came just 12 hours after the gymnast shocked the world by flubbing her team final vault, her first event in the competition, during which she balked in mid-air and ended up almost crashing down to the ground.  

Shortly after the shock error, Biles stunned spectators and teammates alike when she pulled out of the competition altogether, leaving the other three US gymnasts to carry on the final a man-down.

Struggle: A professor from the university said he received a call from Biles' coaches about using his facility less than 24 hours after she pulled out of the team final following a vault error

Struggle: A professor from the university said he received a call from Biles' coaches about using his facility less than 24 hours after she pulled out of the team final following a vault error

Struggle: A professor from the university said he received a call from Biles’ coaches about using his facility less than 24 hours after she pulled out of the team final following a vault error 

Surprise: Biles stunned spectators when she fumbled on her vault - which is usually one of her strongest events - and she later revealed it was the result of the twisties

Surprise: Biles stunned spectators when she fumbled on her vault - which is usually one of her strongest events - and she later revealed it was the result of the twisties

Surprise: Biles stunned spectators when she fumbled on her vault - which is usually one of her strongest events - and she later revealed it was the result of the twisties

Surprise: Biles stunned spectators when she fumbled on her vault - which is usually one of her strongest events - and she later revealed it was the result of the twisties

Surprise: Biles stunned spectators when she fumbled on her vault – which is usually one of her strongest events – and she later revealed it was the result of the twisties

The gymnast – who won five medals in Rio in 2016 – sparked furious controversy with her decision, with some praising her for spotlighting the importance of mental health, while others accused her of ‘quitting’ and ‘abandoning’ her team.

At the time, her future at the Olympics was very much up in the air, with USA Gymnastics revealing that she would be regularly evaluated by its psychologists and doctors to determine her fitness to compete in the other event finals she had qualified for: the all-around, floor exercise, uneven bars, vault, and beam.

One by one, she pulled out of the events – starting with the all-around, which her teammate Sunisa Lee went on to win in her absence.

One day after the final took place, Biles hit back at her critics, sharing a video of herself training her uneven bars routine, while revealing the impact that the ‘twisties’ had on her skills.

It is now believed that the video was shot inside the Juntendo University training facility where Biles started training while attempting to fight through her mental health issues.

In the Instagram video, Simone could be seen crashing to the ground while trying to perform her uneven bars dismount, which requires her to twist her body around in the air.

Speaking about the struggle with the issue in the caption of her videos, Biles hit out at those who criticized her decision to withdraw from both the finals, insisting that she did not ‘quit’, while noting that mental health is just as serious as physical health. 

Link hienalouca.com

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