A Subject Many Athletes Deal With
Simone Biles announced that she would not be competing in the first two gymnastics individuals. It appears she will perform on balance beam next week. Questions are looming on exactly what happened.
While Biles admits she is physically fine, she cannot say the same for her frame of mind.
The Danger in Gymnastics
I do not want to dimmish the existence of mental illness in anyone, especially someone who is constantly trying to live up to the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) references, expected to lead her team while winning a half dozen gold medals, and dealing with a history of sexual abuse. Athletes with a lot less pressure have had similar issues, but in the case of Simone Biles, we need to also think about what she does.
Gymnastics was the first sport I ever did. I enjoyed training and practicing, and while it was clear early on that I wasn’t going to be good enough for any competition, I still managed to work hard enough to produce bruises and sprains. It was a whole different experience when I was doing cartwheels and turns on the balance beam to the multiple handsprings and aerial dismounts Olympic athletes do.
The mental is as important as the physical when it comes to gymnastics. If the two are not in tune, the result can be catastrophic. If you lose concentration for a tenth of a second, you can end up hitting your head, neck, or spine of the beam or uneven bars, or falling on the wrong way off a vault. It’s not just the end of a gold medal, it could be the end of your ability to walk, or even your life.
The mental is as important as the physical when it comes to gymnastics. If the two are not in tune, the result can be catastrophic.
What Biles describes as “the twisties” is also referred to as air awareness. It’s the ability in gymnastics to know exactly where you are and what you need to do next. If that is missing, you won’t know what to do next, resulting in a mixed touch to a bar, or the inability to land correctly.
The fact that Simone Biles dropped out of so many events is understandable from a…