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Simone Biles has said she is delighted to be home in the US after her tumultuous appearance at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 24-year-old flew into Houston on Thursday and was welcomed at the airport by crowds of supporters and relatives, including parents Ronald and Nellie and her sister Rachel.
Biles wrote on Instagram: “Houston, I’m home. Thanks for making sure I didn’t have to wait one more minute to see my family @united.”
Carrying a bouquet of flowers, Biles only briefly interacted with local media, saying she wanted to “have some space”.
The legendary gymnast’s sister Rachel told the station: “Very, very emotional. Good to have her back.”
After leaving the airport Biles headed to her nearby home town of Spring in a convertible, cheered on by numerous fans who lined the road holding placards of support.
Her homecoming followed her dramatic appearance at the games marked by withdrawals, psychological counselling and family tragedy.
She had arrived with the expectation of equalling or even surpassing her historic quadruple gold medal haul from Rio in 2016.
But, after a relatively underwhelming qualification process, she admitted she was experiencing mental health issues and “the twisties” – a phenomenon which temporarily affects an athlete’s spatial awareness.
Daily medical evaluations and two sessions with a sports psychologist within the US team led to Biles being effectively withdrawn from her finals until she was cleared for beam, theoretically the least risky of the apparatus and one which can be performed with the minimum impact on spatial elements.
She took a bronze medal in the beam, to go with her silver from the team competition.
Biles also revealed her paternal aunt had died suddenly during the first week of the games.