‘I knew what was going through her head’: Simone Biles offers words of advice to Suni Lee during US Gymnastics Championships

by Admin
CNN Sports

As well as redefining gymnastics, Simone Biles is also finding time to be looking out for her fellow US gymnasts, not least as she’s conscious of the importance of looking after her own mental health.

Biles shared some comforting words of advice with Suni Lee while the pair competed at the US Gymnastics Championships on Sunday, drawing on her experience dealing with her mental health at the Tokyo Olympics.

Biles, who won a record-extending ninth all-around national title, said that she went backstage to speak with Lee, the reigning all-around Olympic champion, after the latter failed to execute the double twist in her vault.

“I knew exactly what was going through her head,” Biles later told reporters about seeing Lee change her vault routine and miss the landing.

In Tokyo three years ago, Biles withdrew from the team competition after landing her vault awkwardly. She later explained that she was suffering from “the twisties,” losing track of her body position mid-air due to a mental block.

“I dealt with that in Tokyo,” said the 27-year-old Biles, a seven-time Olympic medalist. “I knew that she (Lee) needed some encouragement and somebody to trust her gymnastics for her and to believe in her.

“That’s exactly what I did, I went back there and I went to talk to her … I’ve been in her shoes and I’ve done that exact thing. I know how traumatizing it is, especially on a big stage like this. I didn’t want her to get in her head.”

Biles then offered her support while Lee competed on bars, high fiving her fellow Olympian shortly after the routine.

“I think she knew that I needed help in the moment,” Lee, who is returning to gymnastics having been diagnosed with kidney disease last year, told reporters.

“She out of anyone understands basically what I did on vault. She just came over to see if I was okay and basically just help boost me up and get my confidence back up because at that point I was kind of thinking that this was over. It was really nice having her in my corner.”

Lee went on to finish fourth at the nationals, her first time competing in the all-around since winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Biles, meanwhile, ended the competition with a combined score of 119.750, finishing ahead of Skye Blakely in second and Kayla DiCello in third.

It was yet another assured performance on her journey to appearing at what would be a third Olympic Games in Paris later this year.

Biles took a break from gymnastics after Tokyo to prioritize her mental health but has seemed full of confidence since returning to the sport, winning four gold medals and a silver at last year’s world championships to become the most decorated gymnast of all time.

She was victorious at the Core Hydration Classic last month and, after following that up with another impressive display at the national championships, will now look to secure her spot on the team for Paris at the Olympic Trials.

“I use the phrase ageing like fine wine,” Biles said about her recent form. “It’s just getting better and better so we’ll see, hopefully we get to ride this out for the rest of the year – pretty excited about that.”

Asked about how she deals with mounting expectations on her performances, Biles explained that she tries to focus on her physical and mental health, attending therapy sessions once a week.

“I think at this point, mentally is just as important as I physically feel,” she said, adding, “That was the hardest part after Tokyo – I didn’t trust myself to do gymnastics.

“I knew that it would come if I started training again but it was really hard to trust myself. Mentally, it was a lot harder than physically.”

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