All eyes will be Simone Biles when the Team USA gymnast steps onto the balance beam on Tuesday, marking her official return to the Tokyo Olympics.
“We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow – Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!!” USA Gymnastics announced in a tweet early Monday morning.
Biles pulled herself from competition last week after an uncharacteristically poor vault performance citing a bad case of the “twisties.” Biles said that she had been struggling with mental health issues due to an immense amount of pressure to perform and lead her team to gold.
Since withdrawing from competition, Biles has received a outpour of support from fellow gymnasts and fans while working to conquer her “twisties” diagnosis. The star athlete was seen in one video posted on social media practicing on the bars before dismounting and landing on her back.
While the “twisties” may have caused Biles to bow out of previous events, the condition may or may not have a significant impact on her upcoming performance on the balance beam.
Why balance beam is a safer event for someone struggling with ‘twisties’
The balance beam is Biles’ safest re-introduction to competing again in the Tokyo Olympics, according to several of her past and present teammates.
“Beam, you’re not really doing much twisting things — it’s more just skills,” U.S. gymnast Mykayla Skinner told TODAY after filling in for Biles on the vault and helping Team USA add another silver medal to its count.
Former teammate Laurie Hernandez says it’s harder to avoid twisting on the bars, vault and floor, rather than on the beam.
Mykayla Skinner on Biles trying different things with her dismount
Skinner, who has been talking to Biles every day since she withdrew from competition, says that Biles only has to worry about her dismount while overcoming the “twisties.”
“She’s been able to work a double pike and try different things so I think she’s going to go for that,” Skinner told Hoda Kotba during a TODAY interview.
The dismount Biles normally does involves ‘twisting and flipping’
The dismount Biles typically chooses involves both twisting and flipping, said former Team USA gymnast Aly Raisman, who took home a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics along with Biles.
“Simone is so talented, so incredible that I’m sure she can do so many different dismounts,” Raisman said.
Both Raisman and Hernandez, as well as millions of others, say they are curious as to which dismount Biles will choose.
“I’m curious to see what she’ll do for her dismount, but I have a feeling she’s going to do very well,” Hernandez said.
What is the ‘twisties’ meaning?
“Twisties” are a phenomenon when an athlete suddenly loses their sense of where their body is in space.
It’s “the strangest, weirdest feeling” that makes almost impossible to tell your up from down, Biles said during a Q&A session with her 6.5 million Instagram followers.
If not taken seriously and with extreme caution, competing with the “twisties” can result in grave consequences, especially when it comes to her complicated stunts. One of the GOAT’s signature moves is fitting called “The Biles.”
“The Biles is a triple-twisting double-back — if you get lost on that, that is a huge safety hazard,” Hernandez said.
Biles’ performance on the beam is set for 4:50 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 3 during the last session of event finals, which also includes the men’s parallel bars and high bar.
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