Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is opening up about her battle with the “twisties,” which forced her to withdraw from the 2021 Tokyo Games’ team and individual all-around competitions. The condition causes athletes to lose their sense of space and dimension in midair, even when doing maneuvers they’ve done for years without any issues.
The 24-year-old shared a video in her Instagram Stories of her doing a twisting dismount from the uneven parallel bars where she ended up landing flat on her back, instead of on her feet. “I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on hard, competitive surface,” she wrote below the video.
Simone went on to elaborate on her condition with fans in a series of Instagram Stories, doing an “ask me anything” with fans. One person asked if she felt out of sync sync for non-twisting flips, and Simone responded, “Honestly kind of. But definitely better than when I try to twist. Sometimes I can’t even fathom twisting. I seriously cannot comprehend how to twist.” She added that it’s the “strangest and weirdest thing as well as feeling.”
Another fan asked if it was worse on a certain apparatus, as Simone had issues with her twists during a vault on July 27 that caused her to remove herself from the team all-around competition. “It’s never transferred to the bars and beam for me before. It strictly likes floor and vault,” she said of the twisties. “But this time it’s on literally every event … which sucks really bad.”
Simone confessed that she has experienced the twisties before and “they’re not fun to deal with.” She admitted, “It’s honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your body and mind in sync.”
The four-time gold medalist wrote that “unfortunately it varies with time” for how long it takes for the twisties to leave.” She added, “It’s usually two or more weeks when I’ve had them before” and that she just needs to take it “day by day.”
When a fan asked what it feels like when twisting, Simone explained, “I literally cannot tell up from down. It’s the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body.” She went on to add, “What’s even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air, I also have NO idea where I’m going to land or what I am going to land on … head, hands, feet, back.”
Simone then defended herself against those who claimed she withdrew the all-around competition after her poor performance on the vault. “I didn’t have a bad performance and quit. I’ve had plenty of bad performances throughout my career and finished the competition. I simply got so lost, my safety was at risk as well as a team medal. Therefore, the girls stepped up and killed the rest of the competition and won silver,” declaring her teammates “Queens!”
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