With the Tokyo Olympics officially over, four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles has spent her time crashing the Houston Texans’ practices—her boyfriend, Jonathan Owens, plays for the team—and hopping on Twitter to explain just how scary her case of “the twisties” was in Tokyo.
As we previously explained at The Root, the “twisties” are a dangerous condition in which gymnasts “lose their sense of space and dimension in midair.” As a result, the 24-year-old pulled out of several events in Tokyo before feeling comfortable enough to compete in the balance beam and earning the bronze medal in the process.
As the most decorated gymnast in history, her decision to withdraw during the Olympics sparked a much-needed discussion about mental health in professional sports. And perhaps eager to help better explain the challenges she faced while attempting to compete on the world’s biggest stage, Biles commented on a video of another gymnast suffering a scary fall to illustrate just how dangerous “the twisties” can be.
In the video, taken from the 2002 Junior European Championships, France’s Émilie Le Pennec crashes into the mat during her routine. Thankfully, she immediately returns to her feet, but the end result could’ve been catastrophic had she landed any differently.
“Oh yeah this happened more times than I would’ve wanted in practice at the games….” Biles tweeted.
Previously, Biles took to her Instagram Stories to share personal footage of her own experience with “the twisties” to refute accusations that she quit on her team.
“For anyone saying I quit,” she wrote. “I didn’t quit my mind & body are simply not in sync as you can see here. I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface.”
Thankfully, Biles chose her mental health and well-being over putting herself at risk of significant injury.