03/08/2021 10:58 BST | Updated 03/08/2021 11:00 BST

Simone Biles Wins Bronze On Balance Beam In Return To Tokyo Olympics

The star, whose personal struggles seized the world's attention, tied for the most medals won by a US gymnast.

Simone Biles’ much-awaited return to competition at the Tokyo Olympics Tuesday wasn’t quite a fairytale ending. But the highly decorated US gymnast still pulled out a hard-fought bronze medal on the balance beam.

Biles, looking confident, had just minor flaws in her routine and then delivered a resounding double-pike dismount. She got hugs from the other competitors and she jumped up and down.

Simone Biles competes in the artistic gymnastics women's balance beam final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on Aug. 3, 2021. 

Reports from Tuesday noted that Biles looked solid in practice and was smiling.

That same Biles appeared Tuesday when it counted.

She tied Shannon Miller as the most decorated US gymnast with seven medals in her Olympic career. (But she has two more golds than Miller.)

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Simone Biles of Team United States competes in the Women's Balance Beam Final on day 11 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Teammate Sunisa Lee, who supplanted Biles as the all-around champion, nearly fell after a difficult sequence and finished out of the medal hunt.

Guan Chenchen of China, performing last, won gold with a score of 14.633. Tang Xijing of China got the silver with 14.233 and Biles notched a 14.00.

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USA's Simone Biles in the Women's Balance Beam Final at Ariake Gymnastic Centre on the eleventh day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Tuesday August 3, 2021. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Biles took an unexpected route to what turned out to be her lone individual event.

She dropped out of the team competition after an awkward vault, citing concerns over her mental health. The team captured a silver medal in her absence.

She then withdrew from the all-around, and Lee won the coveted title previously held by her famous teammate.

Noting that she was still getting lost in the air during acrobatic moves, Biles pulled out of three of the four individual events. Americans responded with medal-winning performances. MyKayla Skinner, her replacement in the vault, took silver; Lee grabbed bronze in the uneven bars; and Jade Carey delivered with a gold in the floor exercise.

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TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States embraces teammate Sunisa Lee during the Women's Balance Beam Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Biles’ frankness about her emotional well-being and her disorientation – called the “twisties” – opened dialogue about the pressure of elite sports. She had to defend herself against critics who say she quit.

USA Gymnastics on Monday announced her return to competition at the games with exclamation points.

Biles won bronze on the beam in the 2016 Olympics – her only non-gold among five medals – but she was the 2019 world champion. Lee, who has won gold (all-round), silver (team) and bronze (uneven bars) at these Olympics, conceded earlier that the beam was not exactly her favourite event.

After her somewhat disappointing third place in her best event, the uneven bars, Lee said, “I just wish the bronze medal was on beam or something.”