Simone Biles Tearfully Admits She's 'Still Scared to Do Gymnastics' After Tokyo Olympics
By Paige Gawley
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Simone Biles is opening up about her mental health struggles. The 24-year-old gymnast appeared on Thursday's episode of the Todayshow, and revealed that she's still "scared to do gymnastics" after pulling out of most of her events during the Tokyo Olympics due to a disorienting condition known as "the twisties."
Biles' admission comes amid her Gold Over America Tour, where she and other gymnasts perform in different venues across the country. While Biles said that she "absolutely loves" to tour and gets "so much joy" from it, she has been limited in the moves she does during shows.
"I don't twist. I do double half layouts, which is my signature move on floor that has never affected me," Biles explained on the morning show. "But everything else just weighs so heavy."
"I watch the girls do it, and it's just not the same. 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. It’s hard," she continued, while getting choked up. "I don’t think people understand the magnitude of what I go through."
Despite her struggles, Biles said she's "proud" of herself for working to improve her mental health, something she's continuing to do by becoming the chief impact officer of and an investor in Cerebral, a mental health app.
"[I'm doing] a lot better. Getting the mental health therapy that I need has been relieving for me, especially being on the road, and being on tour," she said. "... The twisting will come back, but I’m still scared to do gymnastics."
When she returned from Tokyo, Biles, along with other gymnasts, emotionally testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the sexual abuse she suffered by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. While speaking there, Biles said, she realized that her experience with Nassar was part of what led to her experience in Tokyo.
"Over the years after suppressing so many emotions and putting up a front on a global scene, I think all of that really came to light," she explained. "My body and my mind allowed me to suppress all of that stuff for so many years, for as long as it could take. As soon as we stepped onto the Olympic scene, it just decided it couldn't do it anymore and it cracked."
"That's what happens, and that's why taking care of your mental well-being and mental health is so important, so that something like that doesn't happen," Biles continued. "I'm grateful that it wasn't somebody else and it was me, because I know I'm strong enough and I can get back on my feet and I'm going to be OK with the right help."
Though she's confident that she will get better, Biles said that the whole situation did "kind of suck."
"I worked really, really hard for that and it's just hard," she said. "... Once [I testified], all the pieces were put together, and I knew exactly what was going on, why it was happening. It sucked because, again, I'm on a global stage and everybody has to watch me go through that and they get to form their own opinion before I even get to voice and say what's going on."
When ET spoke with Biles in September, she expressed gratitude for the support she received amid the Olympic Games.
"I received an overwhelming amount of love and support of outreach of fans, family and it's just been insane," Biles said. "I've definitely taken that with, like, a grain of salt, because a lot of other things can shift and happen, so I'm just very blessed to still be in this position and to have so many people reaching out, showing love and respect for me."
"It shines a whole new light on the sport and ourselves as not just an athlete, but as a human," she continued. "It just teaches you that it's OK, at the end of the day you are human. Stuff like this happens all the time, and they're gonna love and support you no matter what, and that's what they showed."