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Worried Coaches Denied Simone Biles’ Paris Olympics Appeal After Twisties Trauma

Published 04/19/2024, 9:00 AM EDT

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Remember how Simone Biles experienced twisties that led to her departure from the Tokyo Olympics? Well, she took her time to get better and return once again. “She told me she really wanted to give herself a chance to do it. We had margaritas, and that was it,” said coach Cecile Landi when Biles approached her, expressing her desire to return to competition in 2023. However, this story has more layers to it.

Opening up on the “Call Her Daddy” podcast, Simone Biles revealed a conversation with her coaches, Cecile and Laurent Landi, where she expressed her desire to return to the Olympic competition. Recounting the scene, she mentioned how she arranged a meeting and even had Jonathan Owens accompany her for moral support. She said, “I was like, okay, I wanna go back to the Olympics; I wanna do this. And they’re sitting across the table and they look at me and they’re like, no.”

The “no” took her by surprise and she humorously shared, “And I was like, hmm, do I get new coaches?” However, she understood their perspective, sharing how they told her, “Let’s think about maybe getting your skills back, twisting comfortably again.” Despite her initial confusion, she began slowly training and eventually was ready to compete at events like the Core Hydration Classic in 2023, with the ultimate goal being the Paris Olympics.

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Biles’ domination upon her return was worth watching. Her history-making Yurchenko double-pike performance left people shocked. As we reflect on this journey, did you know that for Simone Bile, experiencing twisties was not the lowest moment of her career?

What was the lowest point in her career?

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During her chat on the ‘Call Her Daddy’ podcast, Simone shared that her lowest point in gymnastics wasn’t during the Tokyo competition, but rather when she tried to get back into training. She talked about her frustratingly slow progress and admitted that this frustration sometimes led her to leave the gym, saying, “As soon as I got lost one time, get lost, pack my bags, I’m outta there. Why am I putting myself through this?”

She explained that dealing with the twisties wasn’t just tough for her, but also for her coach, Laurent, who struggled to understand it fully. Despite it being a common issue in gymnastics, Biles pointed out how it’s often kept quiet, with athletes pretending it doesn’t happen. However, she and her coach knew they had to go back to basics to rebuild her confidence and skills. This led to her gradually improving and feeling more comfortable.

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However, Biles isn’t the only high-level athlete who faced mental health issues because of the pressure. Jessica Bartley, a psychologist and the director of mental health services for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said that during the Tokyo Olympics, she and her team received as many as ten calls for support from athletes competing on a daily basis. “The Games are really an incredible opportunity to start to have those conversations,” said Bartley. Her team was the first to travel with Team USA to bolster the well-being of athletes.

In fact, the Tokyo Olympics took place during the Covid-19 pandemic, which also saw a surge in mental health troubles. So when Biles talked about twisties and mental health in gymnastics, it was a great conversation starter about the issue among the masses. Her determination to return to competition with an eye on the Paris Olympics is admirable, and fans are hopeful that all her hard work will pay off this year. What do you think about her experience? Share your thoughts below!

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Written by:

Christaline Meyers

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Christaline Meyers is a senior Olympics writer at EssentiallySports who specializes in gymnastics and alpine skiing. Christaline is one of the acclaimed authorities in the coverage of 6x All-Around champion, Simone Biles. She has written extensively, covering every detail of Biles’s life stories as well as providing her perspective on Simone Biles’ Yurchenko Double Pike controversy.
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Edited by:

Riya Singhal