What are ‘the twisties?’ How is Simone Biles dealing with them?
Simone Biles shared videos on Instagram of how ‘the twisties’ are impacting her air awareness while performing twisting skills.
Sandy Hooper, USA TODAY
TOKYO — The chances of seeing Simone Biles compete again at the Tokyo Olympics are dwindling.
USA Gymnastics announced Biles’ withdrawal from the floor exercise final Sunday, a day before it is to be contested. She had already withdrawn from the all-around, as well as the event finals for vault and uneven bars, which are scheduled for Sunday.
The last event final, for balance beam, is Tuesday, but a decision on her availability for it has yet to be made. Biles will be replaced in the floor final Britain’s Jennifer Gadirova.
Biles came to Tokyo as the biggest star of these Olympics, projected to win a record five gold medals. She pulled out of the team competition Tuesday after one event, saying mental health concerns were manifesting themselves in “the twisties,” a loss of air awareness.
Biles had attempted to do an Amanar, one of the most difficult vaults being done by women but second nature to Biles. But she fell out of the air one twist short, and barely got it to her feet. On her Instagram story Friday, Biles said she was still experiencing the “twisties” but, unlike her previous experience with them, they were now affecting her on all four events rather than just vault and floor.
“It’s honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind & body in sync,” Biles wrote. “10/10 do not recommend.”
She posted two videos of her trying to do her double twisting somersault dismount on uneven bars, and it was clear she was not herself. In the first video, she got through a half twist before suddenly dropping out of the air and landing flat on her back. In the second, she makes it 1½ times around.
In both videos, she is landing on mats placed over a pit filled with foam blocks. In competition, however, she would have to do her skills on a hard, unforgiving surface.
Biles deleted the videos within about an hour of posting them, though she later re-posted the text that had accompanied them.
“I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface,” Biles wrote.
“Sometimes I can’t even fathom twisting,” she added. “I seriously cannot comprehend how to twist.”