Gymnast and three-time gold medalist Aly Raisman appeared on TODAY to discuss Simone Biles' shocking withdrawal from the women's team final competition at the Tokyo Olympics.
At the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo, Biles completed one vault, then left the arena with her trainer before returning. Teammate Jordan Chiles replaced her on the uneven bars. According to a statement from USA Gymnastics, Biles is withdrawing from the team final competition "due to a medical issue."
Raisman, who competed alongside Biles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, suggested that the gymnast may have "gotten lost in the air" while completing a difficult vault sequence.
"The vault that she did was a one-and-a-half twist instead of a two-and-a-half twist, and that is actually very common in gymnastics," Raisman said Tuesday. "I don't know if she got lost in the air. I don't know if she got injured before and wasn't able to complete the twist. I'm sure whenever she's ready she'll tell us. But if she did get lost in the air, I do want to say that that is actually very common, because she's doing such difficult skills and she can twist so much more than the average person.
"She's human," Raisman continued. "Sometimes it happens, when you're in the air, and we just kind of get confused."
Raisman explained that getting "lost in the air" could happen to any gymnast.
"I don't know if this actually did happen, but sometimes, for example, I used to do the two-and-half on vault, the vault that she was going for, and sometimes I would do a half twist by accident instead of a two-and-a-half twist," Raisman said. "Or sometimes if you're trying to do three twists on floor, sometimes you might just breathe the wrong way, or when you're taking off, the lights from the ceiling get in your eye and you just get confused."
Raisman noted that with the increased attention and pressure that has been on Biles, "sometimes people forget Simone is human," and said that getting "lost in the air" is an example of that.
"I think people forget, when we're doing gymnastics, the stuff we're doing is so difficult and I know someone like Simone makes it look so easy, but I think people forget sometimes we're human and sometimes we get confused," Raisman said.
So far, no details have been shared about why Biles withdrew, except for the statement that it was "due to a medical issue." Raisman said that an injury beforehand could also explain why Biles wasn't able to complete the full vault.
"I'm not really sure," said Raisman, who noted that she hadn't spoken to Biles recently. "But I do just want to say that if that did happen, she's human and that does unfortunately happen a lot in the sport, especially someone like Simone where she's doing three different vaults that are so difficult that the block, which is when you're taking off from the table, is different for each vault, so she has to mentally prepare for three different vaults 'cause she's got the double pike and then her two other vaults.
"It's very, very hard and I give her a lot of credit for doing that many different vaults," Raisman added.