Simone Biles fought back tears on the “TODAY” show Thursday as she described her ongoing struggles with performing gymnastics routines in the wake of her bout with “the twisties” that caused her to withdraw from multiple events in the Tokyo Olympics.
Biles is now back on the mat as the headliner of the Gold Over America Tour featuring an all-star cast of gymnasts, but she shared that she only does her signature move on the floor exercise and does not perform any midair twisting in the show.
“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,” she said, growing emotional. “It’s hard. I’m sorry. And I don’t think people understand the magnitude of what I go through, but for so many years to go through everything that I’ve gone through having a front, I’m proud of myself.”
Biles cited mental health issues that triggered “the twisties,” a disorientation in the air while she was competing, as the reason for her stunning withdrawal from multiple events in Tokyo after entering as a heavy favorite to win several gold medals.
Those issues have lingered beyond the Olympics.
“The twisting once I got back will come back, but I’m still scared to do gymnastics,” she said.
Biles also now wants to help others facing mental health struggles after sharing hers with the world this summer at the Olympics.
The superstar gymnast announced exclusively on “TODAY” on Thursday that she is working with the mental health and telemedicine app Cerebral as its chief impact officer and also has become an investor in the company.
She becomes the latest prominent Olympian to partner with a mental health app after superstar swimmer Michael Phelps, who has been open about his struggles with depression and announced a partnership with the online therapy company Talkspace in 2018.
The four-time Olympic gymnastics gold medalist feared a backlash from her ordeal in Tokyo but instead received an outpouring of support from many for prioritizing her mental health. While she withdrew from all but one event, she came back and competed in the balance beam and took home a bronze medal.
She had another emotional experience shortly after the Olympics in September when she broke down in tears at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing while speaking about the abuse that she and other former Team USA gymnasts suffered from former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
She’s now back on the mat as the headliner of the Gold Over America Tour featuring a cast of gymnasts that includes her Tokyo Olympic teammates Jordan Chiles, MyKayla Skinner, Jade Carey and Grace McCallum.
She said she also is practicing what she’s preached by prioritizing her mental health while on tour by seeing a therapist every week.
By Scott Stump