Simone Biles To Withdrawing From Competition Critics : 'I Don't Think You Realize How Dangerous This Is'
Despite her status as the most decorated gymnast in history, earning five world all-around titles and four Olympic gold medals among other prizes while pioneering four separate superhero-level elements all named in her honor, it seems record-smashing athlete Simone Biles has quite a bit in common with the rest of us non-GOATs at the moment. Biles, like all of us, says she “literally can not tell up from down" due to a bad case of the “twisties," the infliction that prompted her to withdraw from two Olympic competitions earlier this week and stumble while executing a complex skill on the vault.
Although the “twisties” may sound like a cute name for a quintessential mommy blogger hairstyle or what happens to your stomach when you wolf down a discount chili cheese dog before riding on a g-force-heavy roller coaster, the twisties are an incredibly dangerous phenomenon that occurs when an athlete loses control of their body and their spatial awareness while spinning through the air. Described by the Washington Post as “a gymnast's worst nightmare," with 1988 Olympic gymnast Missy Marlowe comparing the sensation to “a non-serious stroke,” it seems the twisties are actually so, so, so much worse than non-gymnasts realize. Opening the door for serious injuries – even paralysis -- Biles took to social media to explain just how perilous the twisties can be in a message aimed at her critics.
“For anyone saying I quit,” she wrote on Thursday night alongside a since-deleted clip of herself uncharacteristically falling flat on her back while practicing on the uneven bars. “I didn't quit my mind & body are simply not in sync as you can see here,” she explained. “I don't think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface nor do I have to explain why I put health first,” Biles continued, adding that “physical health is mental health.”
Although the gymnast said in a later Instagram Q and A session that she has experienced the twisties in the past, noting that “they're not fun to deal with,” and explaining how it's “honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your body and mind in sync," Biles says she “randomly" began experiencing the twisties the morning after participating in the team preliminary competition.
Yet even for a gymnast of her caliber, it seems the twisties are still not easy to overcome. “Literally cannot tell up from down,” Biles responded when asked about the sensation. “It's the craziest feeling ever. Not having an inch of control over your body. What's even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air I also have NO idea how I'm going to land, or what I'm going to land on. Head/hands/feet/back.”
Considering just how serious the twisties can be, the athlete says she imagined the aforementioned vault could have potentially ended even more disasterously. “I also have no idea how I landed on my feet on that vault because if you look at the pictures and my eyes you can see how confused I am as to where I am in the air,” she added, referencing the now-infamous images of her looking unusually terrified as she flips off the apparatus. "Thankfully I landed safe enough but I also don't think some of you realize I was supposed to do a 2½ and I only completed 1½ twists before it looks like I got shot out of the air."
Biles then ended the series of posts with a message reiterating that she isn't a quitter -- she was seriously concerned for her physical and mental wellbeing. “I didn't have a bad performance & quit,” she wrote. “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 the team medal. Therefore the girls stepped up and killed the rest of the competition & won silver,” she added alongside a white heart and a sparkle emoji.
So folks, here's to Simone Biles – twisties or not, she'll always be the GOAT.
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