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Simone Biles 'keeping the door open' for possible return at 2024 Olympics

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Simone Biles has had an incredible Olympics. While she didn't match her total from the 2016 Rio Games, she brought significant attention to athlete mental health, a topic that has long needed a deep, public conversation.

With her final routine behind her — a brilliant performance on beam that earned her a bronze medal — she sat down with Today's Hoda Kotb to talk about her future and why Tuesday's bronze medal means so much to her. 

Simone could return in 2024

When Biles mounted the beam on Tuesday, it felt like it could be her last Olympic performance. She's 24, and she's been honest about how difficult it was for her to keep training when the Olympics were postponed last year. 

When Biles was asked if she might return at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, she first said that she needed time to absorb everything that's happened to her over the last few weeks.

"I think I have to relish and take this Olympics in, and kind of recognize what I've done with my career because after 2016, I didn't get to do that. Life just happens so quickly and now I have a greater appreciation for life after everything that's happened in the last five years."

But the lure of Olympic competition is hard to resist, especially for a competitor like Biles. She said she's "keeping the door open" for a possible return at the 2024 Olympics.

Bronze medal on beam 'feels better' than in Rio

This is the second straight Olympics where Biles has won the bronze medal on the balance beam. Even though both medals are the same color, she told Kotb that earning the bronze in Tokyo was more meaningful than at the Rio Games in 2016. 

"It definitely feels better than Rio's bronze medal on beam, but it also shows that I did it for myself, I can go out there and hit another set. I was just excited to compete in the Olympics again because at the beginning I just thought it was over."

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States poses with the bronze medal during the Women's Balance Beam Final medal ceremony on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Simone Biles said she's 'keeping the door open' for a possible return at the 2024 Paris Olympics. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The beam final was the last women's gymnastics event in Tokyo, so Biles knew it was her last chance to get past her difficulties and finish her Olympics on a high note. She went out there and nailed it, and the experience was even better because she was doing it for herself and no one else. 

"It's so crazy. I'm happy I was able to get back out there and do one more routine, especially since I had the girls there rooting me on as well as the guys. It just felt really amazing. I'm proud of myself for the way I pushed through and even learned that dismount that I haven't done in years. And just put up a good set, that's all I really wanted. I wasn't expecting to walk away with a medal or anything, I just wanted to go out there and do it for myself. And I did."

Simone grateful for chance to prioritize her mental health

With so much pressure on her to win medals, Biles said her mental health suffered, and so did her sense of her own self worth. She told Kotb that her worst moment was "probably realizing or recognizing that [she] would only be remembered for [her] medals."

The day after she withdrew from the team final, she tweeted something that showed she was starting to understand that she was worth so much more than that. 

She talked more about that realization on Today, and why she's grateful everything happened the way it did.

"One morning I woke up and I was like, 'I'm more than my medals and gymnastics, I'm a human being. And I've done some courageous things outside of this sport as well and I'm not a quitter and it took all of that realizing to see that, because ... if this situation didn't happen, I don't think I would have ever seen it that way, I would have never been able to walk away and think I'm more than just gymnastics and medals."

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