Beckie Downie praised ‘incredible athlete’ Simone Biles for dealing with the twisties, saying ‘It’s really scary when you can’t control your body.’
Biles has withdrawn from a string of gymnastic events at Tokyo after suffering from the ‘twisties’, a condition when gymnasts are no longer able to confidently feel where their body is during their performances.
Downie competed at the 2008 and 2016 Olympics in gymnastic events and said that everyone in the sport will have dealt with a similar experience but at a major tournament there is little scope to regain your confidence.
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“I think it was a huge shock,” she explained to Eurosport.
“Behind the scenes, for us, we don’t really know what is going on.
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“The first time I saw something was in the team final, when I watched her do that vault. I was watching her when I was in the gym training and we were all like, ‘Wow, where’s that come from?’ - never seen anything like that before.
“It was quite clear to us as athletes that she just got lost in the air. You could see the emotion she was betraying on her face. So it wasn't a shock for us to see her pull out that day after seeing her do something like that.”
Downie explained that suffering from the problem requires training in an easier environment, but the heat of a tournament does not allow Biles the chance to do that.
“After that, going forwards, she’s described herself as having the twisties,” she began.
“It’s not really a word we would use in this country, but I think nearly every single gymnast must have gone through something like that.
“It’s really scary when you can’t control your body, and usually when that happens you go into a soft training environment, redo your skills. But when you’re at a major tournament like the Olympic Games there’s no turning back .
“I feel for her, it must be so disappointing for her. But she’s an incredible athlete and I think she’s shown how strong she is.”
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