The GOAT of gymnastics needs more time to get her groove back—and that’s okay. Simone Biles struck a chord with millions when she withdrew from the Tokyo Olympic Finals to take care of her mental health after developing a case of the “twisties”; a disorienting and extremely dangerous condition for an athlete whose prowess depends on defying gravity. It was the culmination of a season in which Biles had been increasingly transparent about her mental health. including still processing the abuse she and hundreds of others had suffered at the hands of now-convicted US Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, and the immense pressures of being expected to carry her team to gold in Tokyo.
Since that time, Biles—a seven-time Olympic gold medalist tied for most decorated gymnast in history—has been performing on the Gold Over America Tour with sponsor Athleta. Appearing on the Today show Thursday as the new chief impact officer for mental health and telemedicine app Cerebral, in which she’s also an investor, Biles admitted to host Hoda Kotb that she’s not yet fully recovered, and still struggles to perform moves that once came naturally.
Per People magazine:
“I don’t twist. I do ... my signature moves on the floor, but that’s never affected me. Everything else just, like, weighs so heavy, and I watch the girls do it and it’s just, it’s not the same,” she said.
“Is that weird?” Kotb, 57, asked.
“Yeah. To do something that I’ve done forever and just not be able to do it because of everything I’ve gone through is really crazy because I love this sport so much,” Biles responded, holding back tears. “But it’s hard. I’m sorry. And I don’t think people understand the magnitude of what I go through.”
Biles, who shared at the time of her Olympic withdrawal that her “mind & body [were] simply not in sync” (h/t People), continued to make that connection as she spoke with Kotb, becoming emotional as she added:
“For so many years, to go through everything that I’ve gone through, put on a front, I’m proud of myself...But we go through our own things. It’s hard.”
“The twisting once I got back will come back, but I’m still scared to do gymnastics,” she added.
Following the appearance, Biles added a Cerebral-branded post to her Instagram feed, captioning it in part:
To anyone out there who may be struggling with #mentalhealth, please know that you are not alone and help is available.
I have my own challenges with mental health and therapy has been very empowering for me as I try to be the best person I can be. I love gymnastics but it’s what I do, not who I am as a person. If I’ve learned anything over these past few months, it’s that it’s ok to take a step back from everything to take care of yourself.