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Simone Biles still struggling with ‘twisties,’ raising new doubts about returning to action

  • July 30, 2021

Simone Biles is having the “twisties” on all four events, something she’s never experienced before, and it raises new doubts about whether she’ll be able to compete again at the Tokyo Olympics.

Biles posted two videos of her trying to do her uneven bars dismount Friday on her Instagram story, and it’s clear she is not her usual self. She is supposed to do a double twisting somersault and, in the first video, she gets 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. 

Gymnasts from all levels have taken to social media since Tuesday to express support for Biles and share their own stories of the twisties. It’s not simply a matter of being unable to do a skill but, rather, can put a gymnast in physical danger.

One former gymnast, Jacoby Miles, said in an Instagram post that she only had the twisties once. She is now paralyzed after getting them mid-air and breaking her neck.

For Biles, the physical risk is even greater. She does the most difficult skills of any female gymnast – and more difficult than those of some men – and being even the slightest bit off could be catastrophic.

“Literally can not tell up from down. It’s the craziest feeling ever. Not having an inch of control over your body,” she said. “What’s even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air I also have NO idea how I’m going to land, or what I’m going to land on. head/hands/feet/back.”

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