Simone Biles—a seven-time Olympic medalist—thanked the 'secret' Japanese gym where she trained and prepared for her Olympics comeback.
From the get-go, Biles had been shaky after arriving in Japan, uncharacteristically stumbling and stepping out of bounds. She confirmed later in an Instagram story that the "twisties" began "the VERY next morning" after the preliminary competition.
“I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times,” the 24-year-old wrote in an Instagram post on July 26. “I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard…”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Juntendo University professor Kazuhiro Aoki got a call early Wednesday morning from an American with a single request—could Biles use their facilities to train?
Just 12 hours earlier, the 24-year-old withdrew from the women's team final "due to a medical issue," USA Gymnastics said at the time, following her shaky vault landing. Over the coming days, she also withdrew from the individual all-around event, vault and uneven bars and the final for floor.
It would later be revealed Biles did so for two reasons—her mental health and a bout case of the "twisties." Essentially, the term is when gymnasts get lost in the air, and while mentally frustrating, it leaves the athletes at risk of paralysis or death.
Biles took the time to address the continued accusations of her having a bad performance and quitting, saying on her Instagram story, "I simply got so lost my safety was at risk as well as a team medal.
"I also have no idea how I landed on my feet on that vault bc if you look at the pictures & my eyes you can see how confused I am as to where I am in the air," Biles wrote. "Thankfully I landed safe enough but I also don't think some of you realize I was supposed to do a 2 1/2 and I only completed 1 1/2 twists before it looks like I got shot out of the air."
Biles added a Q&A option on her Instagram story, and one user asked how the gymnast could "continue to safely practice with the twisties without risking injury." Biles said that she needed soft surfaces and pits, highlighting that there was a Japanese gym that allowed her to train since they had the resources. That facility turned out to be Juntendo, roughly an hour's drive from the competition venue.
"I’ll forever be thankful for Juntendo for allowing me to come train separately to try to get my skills back," Biles tweeted on Wednesday. "The Japanese are some of, if not the sweetest people I’ve ever met."
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