Simone Biles wins AP Female Athlete of the Year again after a gymnastics comeback.  

Biles became the sixth woman with three AP crowns following her record eighth U.S. national title and sixth world all-around gold. Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark and World Cup champion Spanish soccer player Aitana Bonmati were surveyed by sports media following the 26-year-old seven-time Olympic winner. A full audience backed her all night in June, surprise her.   

Hard to blame her. After two weeks missing finals due to "the twisties" (mid-air vertigo), Biles earned a bronze medal on the balancing beam at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This exposed athletes' unpleasant mental health. Her safety-first attitude was praised, yet her social media postings contradicted that. She spent two years in "protective shell." To recover, she sought treatment.  

Yet doubt crept in. She inhaled deeply and performed despite her nervousness. “I did a lot better than I thought I would,” Biles said. As usual. Biles scarcely remembers her 2016 and 2019 AP titles. She affected the Rio Olympics as a teen. Living with her parents. The family-built Houston suburbs gym governed her life. Just thinking about it shakes her. Biles believed she could practice and touch up her nails. 

Not anymore. She's tried to quit her favorite sport. In April, Biles married Packers safety Jonathan Owens. When time allows, she attends Packers games, works with business partners, and designs her and her husband's home. Her development was natural. Not intended. In an imperfect field, she overanalyzed every turn, flip, twist, and repeat. "Whenever I was 19, it was the end of the world if I had bad days," says. 

"Now I'm like, 'It's OK, it's just gymnastics and I'll come back tomorrow and we'll get it started again.'" Biles' "one day at a time" attitude is difficult for someone who "best case/worst case-ing" everything. Biles grew serious about returning after coach Cecile Landi suggested over margaritas in late spring that she show the world what she was working on. 

Despite thinking she'd never be ready, she responded "sure, OK". Biles added, "I didn't know what I was expecting," praising her friends for boosting her with self-confidence. "People were like, 'No, we've seen you in training, this is what was supposed to happen.'" Since Biles began manipulating sports regulations, his ideas typically work. How did she win?  

A decade of experience makes her routines for all four events challenging. Her first international vault Yurchenko double-pike showed such difficulties. Her sixth point in the sport shows courage and force. But she can win without it. She stated she did it because she could years ago. A third Olympics trip is planned for next summer unless injured. She knows. 

She prefers not saying. In interviews, she unwillingly uses "Paris" or "Olympics". Biles' recent Instagram post inviting people to share their best 2023 moment shows her mindset. She picked a wedding reception picture with her and Owens dancing to represent balance. "At the end of the day I did worlds and all that stuff, but I did get married, I got to support him," says. "It's just like, it's kind of nice that gymnastics isn't the main revolving piece." 

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