HOUSTON (KXAN) — The gymnast known as the greatest of all time returned home to Texas after adding two more medals from the Tokyo Olympics to her already impressive collection.
Simone Biles touched down Thursday afternoon at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, where members of her family and other loved ones greeted her at the gate. United Airlines arranged it so that they would be at her gate when Biles leaves the plane.
Biles’ teammate, Jordan Chiles, also emerged from the plane to cheers of “U.S.A.” from a large crowd gathered at the gate and at baggage claim. Both gymnasts trained at the same gym in Houston.
Biles is now tied with Shannon Miller as the American gymnast with the most career Olympic medals since both have seven medals apiece now. Her latest came in Tokyo after winning silver in the team final and bronze on the balance beam.
Beyond those athletic achievements, Biles placed a renewed emphasis on how mental health affects athletes’ performance when she withdrew from several events at the latest Games. She suffered from a mental block called the “twisties,” which prevented her from knowing where she was in the air while completing high-flying, difficult skills.
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Biles told reporters that her mental challenges helped shift the spotlight to a more important conversation in sports.
“I’m not mad at all. I’m very proud of the girls – all of them. I’m going home in one piece, which I was a little bit nervous about,” Biles said. “It’s not how I wanted it to go, but we opened bigger doors to bigger conversations.”
Biles also shared the devastating news that her aunt died unexpectedly while the gymnast competed in Tokyo.
She has not officially announced her retirement and recently hinted she might want to stick around in some fashion until the 2024 Paris Games to honor her coaches Laurent and Cecile Landi, who are both French. This fall she’ll headline a post-Olympic tour with other gymnasts, and she stressed she plans to stay close to the sport.