Simone Biles is still the goat even if she doesn’t participate in gymnastics ever again. (But, let’s us pray that is not the case.)
The four-time Olympic gymnastics champion shocked the world when the news broke that she was withdrawing from the individual all-around competition during the Toyko Olympics.
According to NBC, in Biles’ one medal performance on the vault, she spun out after one-and-a-half of the planned two-and-a-half twists. Her score underperformed her qualifying times and sunk the overall team score.
With Jade Carey replacing Biles, Team USA recovered and earned the silver medal behind ROC.
“Physically, I feel good. I’m in shape,” Biles told NBC following the competition. “Emotionally, it varies on the time and moment. Coming to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat.”
Later, Biles shared that she wasn’t battling a physical issue, but a mental one, known as the “twisties.”
“They saw it a little bit in practice... having a little bit of the twisties,” she told reporters via NBC.
Many gymnasts chimed in to share their experiences with the twisties. Biles’ 2016 Olympic teammate Laurie Hernandez told NBC that the twisties “can set in when doing high-level elements, typically on floor or vault, and it becomes difficult to compartmentalize the exact element a gymnast’s body is attempting.”
“The rhythm is off, and your brain will like stutter step for half a second and that’s enough to throw off the whole skill,” said Hernandez. “And, so, it happens, and it takes a second to get over that.”
Former U.S. national team member Aleah Finnegan said Biles would be “literally risking” her life if she continued.
“You have absolutely no control over your body and what it does,” Finnegan wrote on Twitter. “And the more you psych yourself about it, the worse it becomes.”
Finnegan shared that she had been battling the twisties since she was 11 years old. Adding it could be difficult to overcome it during the Olympics.
“They have very limited equipment (and) mats in Tokyo to help something like this get fixed, let alone within a day,” she wrote. “It’s hard explaining this to someone who doesn’t do gymnastics, but please know that for the safety of these athletes, both physically and mentally, this was for the best,”
Like many others, this is not the first time Biles has faced the twisties. She talked about it leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and prior to the 2019 season.
“2019, at the beginning of the year, I forgot how to twist and flip. It was great,” Biles told Olympics.com in January 2020.
When asked if she planned to participate in the final events, Biles remained optimistic.
“We’re going to take it day by day, and we’re just gonna see,” she said.
See tweets from gymnasts who discussed the “twisties”:
Mental struggles often result in gymnasts getting something we refer to as the twisties.— Christina MS, CSCS (@Christina_M57) July 27, 2021
It's when your body stops doing what you want it to do & seemingly develops a mind of its own--adding twists or even extra flips to the skill you set out to do.
Hi, your friendly neighborhood former gymnast and diver here to attempt to explain the mental phenomenon Simone Biles is experiencing: the dreaded twisties. 💀— Catherine Burns (@WittyNameChoice) July 28, 2021