Gymnastics-Biles grateful for support during 'mental health journey'


FILE PHOTO: Gymnastics - 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships - Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium - October 1, 2023 Simone Biles of the U.S. in action during the women's qualification REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

(Reuters) - American gymnast Simone Biles on Wednesday said she is grateful for the support of fans and family as she dealt with mental health issues that kept her away from competition for two years prior to her triumphant return.

Biles pulled out of multiple events at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 due to the "twisties," a temporary loss of spatial awareness in mid-air. Her withdrawal to focus on her mental health was one of the biggest stories of those Games.

She returned in August to win a record eighth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in San Jose. At the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships that finished on Sunday in Belgium, she won five medals - four golds and a silver.

"I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to fans, friends, family & partnerships who have been unwavering pillars of support throughout my mental health journey," Biles wrote in a social media post.

"Your encouragement, love, and belief in me has been instrumental in my success and recovery. Knowing that you were there, cheering me on, gave me the strength to push through the toughest moments."

She added: "World Championships was an absolute dream & I still can't believe it."

Biles, 26, is a four-time Olympic and 23-time world championships gold medallist who has looked as dominant as ever since returning to the sport.

Widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time, Biles has said she plans to compete at next summer's Paris Olympic Games.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Sonali Paul)

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