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Simone Biles answers questions about Olympic withdrawal, says safety was 'at risk'

The gymnast said she had 'no idea how' she landed on her feet in Tuesday's competition.
/ Source: TODAY

Simone Biles responded to questions from fans about "the twisties," her current practice routine for the Tokyo Olympics and more in a series of story posts on Instagram Friday.

The gymnast, who withdrew from the team all-around competition on Tuesday and did not compete in Thursday's individual all-around event, said earlier this week that she was not competing in order to focus on her emotional health and because she had a "little bit of the twisties."

The "twisties" are when gymnasts are in mid-air and lose awareness of where they are in the skill, making it difficult to land safely. Biles said that right now, she is still dealing with the mental block and said that in practice "sometimes" she "can't even fathom twisting."

Biles said that she felt "better" when doing non-twisting moves, but still felt "kind of" out of sync.

"I seriously cannot comprehend how to twist," she wrote on Instagram. "Strangest & weirdest feeling."

Biles said that while she had experienced the "honestly petrifying" phenomenon before, she had previously only dealt with it for floor and vault routines. During the Tokyo Olympics, she said that it was also occurring while doing bar and beam routines.

Biles shared a candid description of the "twisties" on Instagram.
Biles shared a candid description of the "twisties" on Instagram. simonebiles/Instagram

"This time it's literally on every event. Which sucks... really bad," Biles wrote, adding in another post that it usually took two or more weeks for her to personally conquer the twisties. "Sometimes you have to take it literally day by day, turn by turn."

Individual events begin Sunday. Biles said in another post that she has been able to practice by "going back to basics" and using "soft surfaces/pits" instead of hard competition surfaces, noting that a place in Japan had been "so sweet to open their doors" for her.

She posted videos of those practices on her Instagram account, but later deleted.

The gymnast responded fiercely to a fan who called her crashes "adorable."
The gymnast responded fiercely to a fan who called her crashes "adorable." simonebiles/Instagram

In another post, Biles shared a detailed description of what it's like dealing with the phenomenon.

"Literally can not tell up from down. It's the craziest feeling ever," she wrote. "Not having an inch of control over your body. 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..."

"I also have no idea how I landed on my feet on that vault (because) 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 in another post. "Thankfully I landed safe enough but I also don’t think some of you realize I was supposed to do a 2.5 and I only completed 1.5 twists before it looks like I got shot out of the air."

Biles also confirmed that Olympic rules prevented an alternate from taking her place mid-competition on Tuesday, and said that she had been "ok-ish" while warming up before the event even though she was "fighting demons" and "petrified." Team USA took home a silver medal in the team event after her withdrawal.

"I didn't have a bad performance and quit. I've had plenty of bad performances throughout my career and finished the competition. I simply got so lost my safety was at risk as well as a team medal," Biles wrote. "Therefore the girls stepped up and killed the rest of the completion & won silver. QUEENS!!! Hence why we have four team members because alllll of us can compete in team meet, not just me."

Biles thanked her teammates and explained why she hadn't competed on Tuesday.
Biles thanked her teammates and explained why she hadn't competed on Tuesday. simonebiles/Instagram

Biles clarified that she had not been dealing with the twisties before leaving the United States, and had only begun to struggle with the phenomenon before the competition began in Tokyo. In another slide, she noted that some people believe the twisties can be caused by stress.

"For anyone saying I quit, I didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync, as you can see here," she wrote. "I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health."