Simone Biles 'Still Scared to Do Gymnastics' After 'Twisties' at Tokyo Olympics

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVOctober 21, 2021

Simone Biles, of United States, performs on balance beam during women's gymnastics podium training at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

Appearing Thursday on the Today show, legendary Olympic gymnast Simone Biles discussed her struggles with mental health and how they have impacted her ability to take part in gymnastics.

Biles told Today host Hoda Kotb she is still dealing with the issues she experienced at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo:


“I don’t think people understand the magnitude of what I go through.”<a href="https://twitter.com/Simone_Biles?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Simone_Biles</a> tells <a href="https://twitter.com/hodakotb?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@hodakotb</a> about life after the Tokyo Olympics, the next chapter of her gymnastics career, and working for the health and telemedicine app Cerebral. The company’s CEO also joins us live. <a href="https://t.co/4EG6gucUcY">pic.twitter.com/4EG6gucUcY</a>

The 24-year-old world champion gymnast said: "It's not the same. To do something that I've done forever, and just not be able to do it because of everything I've gone through is really crazy because I love this sport so much. It's hard. I'm sorry."

She added that while she believes her ability to compete at the highest level of gymnastics will "come back," she is "still scared to do gymnastics."

After winning four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, including the individual all-around and team events, Biles was expected to be draped in gold in Tokyo as well.

She was the heavy favorite to repeat as individual all-around champion, and Team USA was widely expected to win the team event once again as well.

After an awkward landing on a vault attempt, however, Biles pulled out of the team event, and the Americans settled for silver.

She said at the time that she was dealing with the "twisties," a mental block that causes gymnasts to feel disoriented midair during flips.

As a result, she pulled out of the individual all-around and several apparatus finals. In her absence, United States teammate Suni Lee won the individual all-around.

Biles did return for the balance beam final to close out gymnastics at the 2021 Summer Games, and she rose to the occasion by winning a bronze medal.

Since the conclusion of the Olympics, Biles has been at the forefront in speaking out about the sexual abuse she and many of her teammates experienced from disgraced former USA gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar, who will spend the rest of his life in prison.

In the interview with Kotb, she discussed the pride she takes in being a leader for the other survivors of Nassar's sexual abuse:


“I’m proud of myself and I’m happy that I can be a leader for the survivors.” -<a href="https://twitter.com/Simone_Biles?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Simone_Biles</a> to <a href="https://twitter.com/hodakotb?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@hodakotb</a> <a href="https://t.co/fYp0VUrwSZ">pic.twitter.com/fYp0VUrwSZ</a>

While Biles has not returned to competitive gymnastics since the Olympics, she is still involved in the sport.

She is part of the Gold Over America tour, which is a showcase of the top American gymnasts.

While she isn't breaking out complicated routines on the tour and is avoiding flips and twists, she is still entertaining fans across the country.

Biles has yet to confirm whether she intends to compete at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris or not, but she has hinted at doing so and hasn't publicly ruled out the possibility.