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Simone Biles makes Olympic return on balance beams as US gymnast struggles with mental health at Tokyo Games

SIMONE BILES returns to Olympic action on Tuesday morning after stepping aside to focus on her mental health.

The American superstar was seen at the gymnastics arena in Tokyo ahead of competing in the balance beam final.

Biles, 24, smiled as she went through her warm-up routine hours ahead of the 9.50am UK time final at the Ariake Arena.

She pulled out of the team and individual all-around finals last week - as well as the vault, uneven bars and floor.

USA gymnastics confirmed the four-time Olympic gold medallist's return in a statement on Twitter on Monday.

They said: "We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow - Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!"

Biles, a four-time Olympic gold medallist, was planning to take part in six events at these Games.

But she was excused from the all-round final to take a breather from all the expectation and hype.

Biles qualified for four apparatus finals but was not involved in the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise.

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Had things been different and she had won six golds, she would have surpassed the Olympic record for female athletes.

Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina won nine gold medals while competing at Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964.

Since the Rio Olympics in 2016, Biles revealed she had been among more than 300 women and girls to say they were molested by prolific USA Gymnastics child abuser Larry Nassar.

Biles, who is considered by many to be the greatest gymnast of all time, has received plenty of support from her fellow athletes.

She said last week: "After the performance I did, I just didn't want to go on. I have to focus on my mental health.

"I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now.

"We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.

"I don't trust myself as much anymore. Maybe it's getting older. There were a couple of days when everybody tweets you and you feel the weight of the world.

"We're not just athletes. We're people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back."

IOC president Thomas Bach has praised Biles for prioritising her mental health over personal and team glory, saying: "I can only say, you know, we are with her,

"I must personally say I had the opportunity to at least briefly talk with her after the team competition.

"I'm really admiring how she's handling the situation. She admits to having this problem. This is already courageous.

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"Who one year ago would have admitted to say (they) have mental health problems?

"And at the same time then cheering on (her) team-mates.

"And then being there, and supporting when her successor is in the all-around final?

"This is, you know, great human quality and this is Olympic spirit at its best."

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IOC boss praises Simone Biles for speaking up about mental health

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