Simone Biles has opened up on the specifics of her shock withdrawal from two Olympic events this week, telling reporters she had been suffering from "twisties".
The gymnastics term represents a mental block in which gymnasts lose their spatial awareness in the midst of competition. It is a well-known, terrifying and dangerous sensation for gymnasts.
In the Olympic team final, Simone Biles planned to perform a 2-and-a-half twisting vault, but her mind froze midway through the move.
“I had no idea where I was in the air. I could have hurt myself," Biles said at a press conference last night.
Biles immediately withdrew from the competition, before also withdrawing herself from the all-around final last night.
"She was having a mini heart attack," teammate Jordan Chiles added.
Former US Olympian Aleah Finnegan explained her own terrifying bout of "the twisties" on social media, saying she had experienced the phenomenon since she was 11.
"I cannot imagine the fear of having it happen to you during competition," Finnegan said.
"You have absolutely no control over your body and what it does. And the more you psych yourself about it, the worse it becomes.
"You can't control yourself and what your body is going to do next, therefore literally risking your life."
Following her withdrawal, Biles took to social media to thank fans around the world for "the outpouring love and support", saying it made her realise she was more than just achievements and medals.
Biles can still compete in the individual events next week. A decision is expected to be made in the coming days.
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