Simone Biles Gets Emotional Discussing Twisties on Today Show: 'I'm Still Scared to Do Gymnastics'
Simone Biles is sharing insight into her personal struggles.
During this year's Summer Games in Tokyo, 24-year-old Biles removed herself from four out of five event finals due to a case of the "twisties," a disorienting condition athletes can experience when they lose air awareness, putting them at risk for injury when they land. She explained at the time that she withdrew from the competition to focus on her mental health, saying on social media that her "mind & body are simply not in sync."
Kotb asked whether Biles still experiences the "twisties" while performing on the road for the Athleta Presents Gold Over America Tour alongside other top gymnasts.
"I don't twist. I do ... my signature moves on the floor, but that's never affected me. Everything else just, like, weighs so heavy, and I watch the girls do it and it's just, it's not the same," she said.
"Is that weird?" Kotb, 57, asked.
"Yeah. 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," Biles responded, holding back tears. "But it's hard. I'm sorry. And I don't think people understand the magnitude of what I go through."
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"For so many years, to go through everything that I've gone through, put on a front, I'm proud of myself and I'm happy I can be a leader for the survivors and bring courage to everybody speaking up," continued Biles. "So I'm happy to be a voice for them. But we go through our own things. It's hard."
"The twisting once I got back will come back, but I'm still scared to do gymnastics," she added.
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While speaking with PEOPLE in August, Biles opened up about prioritizing mental health in and out of a sports culture that has taught many to push through struggles to achieve peak performance.
"Sometimes when we speak on these things, then we become the face of it. I'm not sure if I'm completely ready for that aspect of it," she said at the time.
"Over the years, obviously, since I've been so dominant everybody supports the gymnastics and praised me for what I've done in the gym and not really outside," Biles added. "Then once I took a step back, I obviously was expecting to feel a lot of backlash and embarrassment. But it's the complete opposite. That's the first time I felt human. Besides Simone Biles, I was Simone, and people kind of respected that."