USWNT edge past Australia in thrilling bronze medal match


The Ogawa Gymnastics Arena is pictured at Juntendo University, where Team USA gymnast Simone Biles secretly trained over several days last week to get back into form to compete on the balance beam. She won a bronze medal in the event on Tuesday - her seventh Olympic medal.
The Ogawa Gymnastics Arena is pictured at Juntendo University, where Team USA gymnast Simone Biles secretly trained over several days last week to get back into form to compete on the balance beam. She won a bronze medal in the event on Tuesday – her seventh Olympic medal. Bex Wright/CNN

Around an hour’s drive from Tokyo, a university campus surrounded by rice paddies was the unlikely setting behind Simone Biles’ Olympic comeback.

CNN was given exclusive access to the Ogawa Gymnastics Arena at Juntendo University, where the Team USA gymnast secretly trained over several days last week to get back into form to compete on the balance beam.

She won a bronze medal in the event on Tuesday, her seventh Olympic medal.

Biles had earlier pulled out of the all-around team event and the majority of individual events after a shaky performance on the vault, saying she was struggling with mental health issues and “the twisties” — when gymnasts feel lost when they’re flying through the air.

Team USA had contacted the facility via Professor Kazuhiro Aoki of Juntendo University to ask if Biles could train there discreetly away from the capital.

“Working with Team USA and helping get Simone back on her feet, if we were even a small part of that, I think it was a big success and it makes me very happy,” Aoki told CNN.

Last week, Biles posted a series of videos on her Instagram account showing her struggling to find her form and crashing into landing pads while practicing dismounts on the uneven bars.

The gymnastics coach at the arena said he tried to help Biles beat what she described as her “demons.”

“It looked like she was suffering,” coach Wataru Kawai said. “I was hoping I could do something to help her.

Coach Wataru Kawai
Coach Wataru Kawai Bex Wright/CNN

“She was trying to do things that she wasn’t able to do,” Kawai added. “She was really trying to figure out what was wrong.”

Biles said Wednesday on Twitter she would “forever be thankful” to Juntendo “for allowing me to come train separately to try to get my skills back.”

The Japanese, she wrote in her tweet, “are some of, if not the sweetest people I’ve ever met.”

Simone also left a thank you message on the whiteboard of the Ogawa Gymnastics Arena.

The staff there said they will never wipe it off.



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