Like the prisoner of romance, who does not know when it is day or when the nights are because a crossbowman killed the little bird that sang the dawn, he turned off the light of day, so Simone Biles, who confesses on his Instagram that when he flies and spins in the air, lost in space, does not know where the head and the ground are. “I literally cannot distinguish top from bottom,” writes Biles, the queen of the Rio Games (four gold medals and one bronze), who arrived in Tokyo with the aspiration of repeating and improving and giving metal value to the consideration. best gymnast in history, a title already earned for his almost revolutionary contribution to the progress of the discipline. “I don’t have an iota of control over my body. This disconnection between head and body is the worst feeling I have ever had in my life ”.
This condition, well known to gymnasts, and they call it “having the twisties“(Los girillos) in the United States, is the daughter of a mental block whose cause does not intuit, says Biles, who, finally, has decided to withdraw from the fight for the medals in the jump and uneven bars finals, for which she was classified and that will be played this Sunday. “Sometimes I have had this problem, but only in jumping and ground, now it is literally in all devices.”
“It’s a problem that usually occurs when you start adding difficulty to the moves with more twists, twos, threes, and pirouettes. We say that the gymnast ‘gets lost’, he doesn’t know where he is, and he has to open up in the middle of the exercise ”, explains Fernando Siscar, Ray Zapata’s coach who plays the floor final on Sunday. “If this happens in a training session, there is no problem, stop, the exercise is simplified for a few days, it is left in a single turn and perception gradually recovers, but in a competition, and more if they are Games, open up in the middle of an exercise it can be a serious problem, a fall, a serious injury. If you can relax the practices for a few days, you fix it, but that is impossible in some Games ”.
Since retiring from the team final, where he won a silver medal, Biles has entered precisely that process of relaxation. Apart from going to the gymnastics pavilion to cheer on her partner Suni Lee, who won the entire contest against Brazilian Rebeca Andrade on Thursday, Biles has been training in a private gym in Tokyo, working out on very soft foam mats that cushioned her falls, without danger, after very simple exercises, as the coaches have explained to the North American press, and they say that when her brain clicks again and recovers her aerial skills and the confidence to dare them, she will once again be the Biles of always.
“I have read that the cause may be stress, but I don’t know,” Biles writes in his post. Other times, in a couple of weeks I have recovered from similar problems, but not so serious ”, Biles admits on his Instagram. “We will see day by day.”
Specialists compare it to yips (tremors) of golfers with the putter in the green, unable to control the movements that have been part of their daily routine since childhood, or with the sudden inability of some baseball hitters to see curveballs coming. “There are people with better conditions to develop a good time-aerospace vision than others, but it is not an innate talent, but it develops from children, training it a lot”, explains Siscar. “And based on simple twists at the beginning it is created, and gradually adding more complications.”
When it happened to Biles, in the jump of the team final, the American gymnast showed why she is the best, because she reduced the planned pirouette, an Amanar, to a turn, which required two and a half, and was able to land on her feet. , something, say the specialists, practically impossible. “And taking a step to the side, being aware of her problem and deciding to move away, Biles showed how great she is, because it is not easy to do what she did,” says sports psychologist Pablo del Río, who uses the term burnt, “Burned”, to explain why a gymnast accustomed to the most difficult, most enormous exercises in the history of women’s gymnastics, and to always fall on her feet because, it was known, one of her great qualities, the one that made her be like a cat, always standing, was his great ability to perceive time-aerospace, to know with time stopped and in the air where each part of the body is, and to be able to control movements better than anyone. “It’s like hidden fires, which are burning but only appear when they are uncontrollable. This is how this problem usually manifests itself. It is a very slow mental exhaustion and you only see the fire when it is lit, as it happened to Biles here in Tokyo ”.
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