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US gold medalist wrestler says Simone Biles needs to 'check herself'

Henry Cejudo, who took home the gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Beijing Games, recently shared a Twitter video in which he said that he believes Simone Biles needs to 'check herself' and that she made a mistake by pulling out of all but one event in the Tokyo Olympics

Simone Biles needs to 'check herself,' according to a former US Olympic gold medalist who believes she made a mistake when she withdrew from all but one event in Tokyo, citing mental health struggles.  

'If you start to think that you're the GOAT or the greatest of all time . . . then you're gonna have to live it man,' said Henry Cejudo, who took home the gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Beijing Games. 

'I think there's time for a little bit of tough love,' the 34-year old said. 'If she was my sister this is exactly what I would do. I would never say something that I wouldn't say to my family, or even to me, because I believe that sometimes we need a little kick in the arse. We really do, man.

'What we need is for someone to tell us and check us that it's every four years, in this situation five years, in order for you to go down as one of the greatest athletes of all time.' 

Biles took a back seat in the gymnastics arena in Tokyo on Sunday as she slipped inside to support US teammates alongside Jordan Chiles (left) and Grace McCallum

Cejudo decried the notion that the media creates athletes like Biles and said, 'They only give you a platform and the limelight. It's up to you to believe it and to accept it.' 

If you start to think that you're the GOAT or the greatest of all time . . . then you're gonna have to live it man.'

Cejudo was 21 when he earned gold and became the youngest American to win in the event. He also won 16 of 18 UFC bouts before retiring following a win against Dominick Cruz on May 9, 2020. 

He told Bleacher Report at the time that he retired because he felt his legacy was set and he would only continue competing if he was paid more. 

Cejudo spoke of the pressure that Biles faced entering the Olympics as one of the most noteworthy faces of the Games following her four-medal win in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

'There's two things that pressure could do,' he said. 'Pressure could either bust pipes or it could create and make diamonds. You choose what to do with it, remember that. There's a reason why you're an Olympic champion. You're going against you and I hope you could come back from that.'   

Cejudo was 21 when he brought home a gold medal and became the youngest American to win in freestyle wrestling. He also won 16 of 18 UFC bouts before retiring in May 2020. He celebrates one of those wins in June 2019

Last week, Biles dropped out of the team competition, all-around final and three individual finals due to mental health struggles, she said. However, she will make one last bid for Olympic glory in Tuesday evening's balance beam final.  

USA Gymnastics confirmed that the 24-year-old will join all-around champion Sunisa Lee, 18, in the balance beam competition, posting the news on Twitter just minutes before Biles watched her teammate Jade Carey take gold in the floor exercise final. 

'We are so excited to confirm that you will see two US athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow,' the statement read.

'Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can't wait to watch you both!'

The news suggests that Biles has managed to work through the mental health struggles which prompted her to pull out of the finals for the vault, floor exercise, and uneven bars - all of which she was expected to medal in. 

Instead, Biles has taken on the role of cheerleader and spectator throughout each of the finals, including the floor exercise event on Monday, during which she was seen clapping and yelling while Carey, 21, competed in the Ariake Gymnastics Center.    

Simone Biles (pictured today) will get one last chance to leave Tokyo with a gold medal after it was announced she will be competing in Tuesday's beam final

Biles was pictured in the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on Monday next to MyKayla Skinner (center) and Grace McCallum (right) to cheer teammate Jade Carey to a gold medal on floor

USA Gymnastics confirmed Biles will compete on Tuesday alongside Suni Lee in the beam final

After Jade performed her floor routine, Simone removed her face mask, screamed loudly and warmly applauded the athlete - whom she was supposed to have been competing against. 

At the Rio Olympics, Biles had to settle for a bronze medal on the balance beam, having made a major error during her routine, which had been expected to win her the gold. 

Her decision to take part in the same final in Tokyo will give her the chance to get a second shot at the gold, as well as giving gymnastics fans one last chance to see the GOAT compete.  

Biles donned a black face mask as she celebrated Carey's success on floor

Tuesday's attempt at gold will be Biles' last appearance at the Olympics - during which gymnast has endured a troubling struggle with poor mental health, leading her to drop out of four competitions, including the team and all-around finals.  

The news marked the beginning of a very positive day for Team USA's gymnasts, which was made all the more sweet by Carey's victory on the floor. 

Following her gold medal win, the newly-crowned floor exercise champion took the time to celebrate her teammate's return to competition, telling DailyMail.com: 'I'm really proud of her for coming back.

'She has been through a lot. So I'm really happy and proud that she is coming back tomorrow on the beam.'

It remains to be seen whether Biles will manage to surge ahead to medal glory in the balance beam final, which she qualified for in a disappointing seventh place - while her teammate Suni Lee finished in third place in the preliminary competition behind Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing. 

However, the gymnast has been putting in plenty of training time ahead of Tuesday's final, working on several new skills that will allow her to complete a routine without worrying about her struggle with the 'twisties' - a mental phenomenon that causes gymnasts to feel like they are 'lost in the air' and can result in devastating injury.  

Biles has stressed that being he oldest member of the US women's team has added to her anxieties and is one of the reasons 'the demons' have affected her in Tokyo.

Simone, one of the greatest all time Olympic gymnasts, will be 27 when the next games are staged in Paris in 2024 and has indicated that she plans to retire from elite competition long before then.  

USA Gymnastics shared the news that Biles will compete in the beam final as she was seen arriving at the Ariake arena to cheer on her teammate 

The 24-year-old (pictured with her teammates from the men's and women's team) has taken on the role of enthusiastic supporter and cheerleader throughout the other event finals

Ready to go: In 2016 (pictured), Biles had to settle for bronze in the balance beam final - but she will now get another chance to claim gold in the event 

Biles made a very rare error during her routine in the Rio 2016 final and, while she managed to stay on the apparatus, the mistake cost her a chance at winning 

She said she had lost confidence and worried about competing and was suffering the 'twisties' which hamper the ability to maintain any awareness in the air, and can therefore result in serious injury. 

Speaking about Biles' decision to compete, her teammate MyKayla Skinner explained that she has managed to re-work her beam routine in order to eliminate skills that require a twist, including her signature dismount. 

'[On] beam you're not really doing much twisting things, it's just skills,' the 24-year-old told the Today show. 'She's been able to work a double pike and try different things... so no twisties for her!' 

Biles' teammate Jade Carey wins gold in the floor final in her absence

As expected, an American triumphed in the women's floor final – it just was not the one we thought it would be.

With hot favourite Simone Biles sitting this out, thanks to ongoing mental health issues, Phoenix's Jade Carey made the most of her chance, delivering a faultless performance at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

The 21-year-old was a tough act to follow. Next up was Britain's Jessica Gadirova. Who had qualified in fifth place. After a slight early stumble, she recovered well, to score 14.000.

Russian Angelina Melnikova, up next, scored 14.166 to drop her to third. And when Italy's Vanessa Ferrari, cheered on by Italian journalists in the press box, scored 14.200, Jennifer was out of the medals.

Twin sister Jennifer, who took her place in the final following the withdrawal of Biles, as last up but another early stumble put paid to her chances in a daring, ambitious routine and she scored 13.233. Biles will take part in tomorrow's balance beam final.

USA Gymnastics said on Sunday that Biles had withdrawn from Monday's floor exercise final, which was one of the four golds that she had won in Rio in 2016, and would make a decision about her last scheduled final on the beam later this week.

Biles had been expected to improve on her Rio Games gold haul after qualifying for all five individual finals in Tokyo but pulled out of the all-around, vault, asymmetric bars and floor exercise medal events in order to protect her mental health.

She shocked the world when she withdrew from the team final last week after a single vault, citing mental health issues.

Asked how Biles was doing on Sunday, teammate Skinner told reporters she was 'handling it better than I thought'.

'Every day she's been laughing and giggling, super supportive, and I'm sure when she gets home it'll probably hit her more. Right now, she's around all of us,' she said.

'She's still probably going to be competing, so I'm sure she's trying to stay in the game, but honestly she's been the happiest person and I'm so grateful to see after everything she's been through that she's making the best of it.' 

Since cutting short her participation in the team final, the 19-time world champion said she is suffering from 'twisties' - a mental block that is preventing her from safely performing the high-risk skills required to compete.

Biles, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, did a question-and-answer session for her followers on Friday, during which she laid bare her current below-standard ability by posting a video of a training calamity in Tokyo. 

In her Instagram video, Simone is seen going through her routine on the uneven bars during training - however when she performs her dismount, which requires her to twist her body around in the air, she failed to land on her feet and instead crashed to the mat, falling flat on her back. 

Biles' usual dismount - a double twisting somersault - requires her to complete two twists in the air before landing on her feet, facing away from the bars. 

However, in one of the videos that she posted, the gymnast only managed to complete half of a twist, before plummeting to the mat and landing flat on her back.  

The troubled athlete (pictured on Sunday) had pulled out of several events in the Olympics, including the team event, floor exercise and all-around final

The 24-year-old watches from the stands at the Tokyo Olympics gymnastics, artistic Women's All-Around Final. On Friday she withdrew from two more events

A second clip showed her completing one-and-a-half twists, before making the same crash landing. 

Such a fault which would cost her heavily in points in Olympic competition if she were to resume her dreams of adding to the four golds and one silver she secured in Rio five years ago.

The twisties can also result in serious injury, leaving gymnasts unable to spot their landing correctly and therefore leaving them at risk of a dangerous fall.  

Speaking about the struggle with the issue in the caption of her videos, Biles hit out at those who have criticized her decision to withdraw from both the team and all-around finals, insisting that she did not 'quit', while noting that mental health is just as serious as physical health.

'For anyone saying I quit. I didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync,' she wrote. 

'As you can see [in the video]. I don't think you realize how hard this is on hard/competition surface. 

'Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.' 

The Team USA star recently shared more details about her mental health issues and struggle with the 'twisties', an issue that causes gymnasts to feel 'lost in the air'

She slammed those who have criticized her for pulling out of the team and all-around finals, insisting that her mental health struggles are real and very dangerous in the same post

Since Biles has highlighted her struggles with mental health, a number of other athletes have taken action to safeguard theirs, with England cricketer Ben Stokes, 30, announcing he will be taking an 'indefinite break' from both international and domestic matches to 'prioritise his mental wellbeing'.

British swimming sensation Adam Peaty, who has won two gold medals and one silver in Tokyo, also revealed he will take a short break from the sport after the Olympics to protect his mental health - as he referenced the struggles of Biles.

'It's been hard for everyone, for every sport out there,' Peaty said. 'It's been very, very tiring, but I think I'm going to celebrate and have what my coach Mel calls a forced rest, where we're not allowed to touch the water for a month.

'It is going to be a war of attrition over the next three years. We've got three major championships next season.

'You'll see people who are falling off, who go all the way through ISL and all the way through World Cups and by the time they get to Paris.

'You're seeing it in all sports now. You're seeing it with Simone Biles, you're seeing it with Ben Stokes, mental health matters and it is about getting the balance right at that elite level.

'The amount of time that has been taken away from me with my partner and my boy – he doesn't know it – but I want to make that time up. I'm going to enjoy it and recover.' 

British swimming sensation Adam Peaty referenced Biles' struggles as he announced that he'll be taking a break from the sport after the Olympic Games

England cricketer Ben Stokes (pictured right) has become the latest high-profile star to take time out from sport to focus on his mental wellbeing after Biles withdrew from several events

Biles has received glowing praise for her 'bravery' and 'courage' to put her mental health before competing, with a number of Olympic champions past and present sending her messages of support over the past weeks. 

International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach admitted Biles' bravery to confront her mental health problems in front of the world is 'admirable'.

He said: 'I can only say, you know, we are with her. I must personally say I had the opportunity to at least briefly talk with her after the team competition.

'I'm really admiring how she's handling the situation. She admits to having this problem. This is already courageous. Who one year ago would have admitted to say (they) have mental health problems?

'And at the same time then cheering on (her) teammates. And then being there, and supporting when her successor is in the all-around final? This is, you know, great human quality and this is Olympic spirit at its best.'

US swimming legend Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 medals, talked about the need for mental health resources for Olympic athletes after Biles withdrew from a number of events, having revealed back in 2018 he suffered with depression himself and contemplated suicide after the 2012 London Games. 

Biles hasn't competed in Tokyo since pulling out of the team event after performing one vault

Speaking to The Athletic he said: 'I hope this is an opportunity for us to jump on board and to even blow this mental health thing even more wide open.

'We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it's challenging especially when we have the lights on us and all of these expectations being thrown on top of us.

'We're human beings. Nobody is perfect. It's OK to not be OK. It's OK to go through ups and down and emotional rollercoasters. The biggest thing is, we all need to ask for help when we go through those times. It was hard for me to ask for help.

'I felt like I was carrying, like Simone said, the weight of the world on my shoulders. It's a tough situation. I hope this is an eye-opening experience.'  

Michelle Obama, tennis icon Billie Jean King, Coco Gauff and former football star Landon Donovan also sent messages of support to their compatriot among a number of other big names and celebrities.

Biles' NFL star boyfriend Jonathan Owens spoke out last week to praise the gymnast's 'strength and courage' amid her ongoing battle with 'petrifying' mental issues.

'Imma ride with you through whatever baby,' he wrote, while sharing a slideshow of images of himself and Biles. 'Your strength and courage is unmatched and you inspire me more and more everyday SB.' 

He added that Biles, who chose not to defend her Olympic all-around title in order to 'focus on her mental health', having dropped out of the team final after one event for the same reason, will 'always be his champ'. 

Heartfelt: Biles' NFL boyfriend Jonathan Owens praised her 'strength and courage' last week amid the gymnast's ongoing battle with 'petrifying' mental health issues in Tokyo

How the terrifying 'twisties' upended Simone Biles' quest for Olympic glory: Gymnasts explain 'dreaded' and VERY dangerous mental 'phenomenon' that left one athlete PARALYZED

When Simone Biles announced her decision to drop out of the team final and women's all-around competitions at the Olympics this week, the four-time Olympic gold medalist cited a scary mental issue: 'They saw it a little bit in practice. Having a little bit of the twisties,' she said.

To many non-gymnasts, it seemed that the problem was simply that the pressure got to be too much for her, or that she didn't want to risk jeopardizing her 'GOAT' status with anything less than gold.

But to those familiar with the sport, the references to 'twisties' indicated something much more serious — and possibly even life-threatening.

Several gymnasts — including former Olympians — have since taken to Twitter to explain just what the dreaded 'twisties' are, and why Simone's choice to back out while experiencing them may be saving her from catastrophic injury.

Catherine Burns, a former gymnast and diver from California, went viral with her Twitter thread 'attempting to explain the mental phenomenon Simone Biles is experiencing: the dreaded twisties.'

Oh no! To those familiar with the sport, the references to 'twisties' indicated something much more serious — and possibly even life-threatening.

Quick explainer: Catherine Burns went viral with her Twitter thread 'attempting to explain the mental phenomenon Simone Biles is experiencing: the dreaded twisties'

'When you're flipping or twisting (or both!) it is very disorienting to the human brain,' she explained. 'When training new flips and twists, you need external cues to learn how it feels to complete the trick correctly. (In diving, a coach yells 'OUT' and you kick your body straight and pray).

'Once you've practiced a trick enough, you develop the neural pathways that create kinesthesia which leads to muscle memory. Your brain remembers how your body feels doing the trick and you gain air awareness,' she said.

Kinesthesia is the awareness of the position and movement of parts of the body by means of sensory organs in the muscles and joints.

Catherine then offered up an example of what the twisties might look like for a non-gymnast.

'Think about something that took you a while to learn and required a lot of concentration at the time to get it right, but now is second nature. Driving a car is a good example (especially stick!),' she said.

'Suddenly, in the middle of driving on the freeway, right as you need to complete a tricky merge, you have totally lost your muscle memory of how to drive a car. You have to focus on making you foot press the pedal at the right angle, turn the steering wheel just so, shift gears.

'It's terrifying,' she said. 'You're moving way too fast, you're totally lost, you're trying to THINK but you know you don't usually have to think to do these maneuvers, you just feel them and do them.

When training to flip and twist, gymnasts use external cues. Once they've done it enough, they develop 'neural pathways that create kinesthesia which leads to muscle memory

Terrifying: But when one develops the twisties, they suddenly lose that muscle memory

Kinesthesia, interrupted: For a gymnast in the air, that can mean falling fast and hard — and if they land the wrong way, it can lead to broken bones, spinal cord injuries, or even death

'The twisties are like this, and often happen under pressure. You're working so hard to get it right that you stop trusting your muscle memory. You're getting lost in the air, second-guessing your instincts, overthinking every movement.

'It's not only scary and unnerving, it's incredibly dangerous even if you're doing basic gymnastics. The level of skills Simone throws combined with the height and power she gets can lead to catastrophic injury if you're not confident and connected to your kinesthesia.'

'When Simone says she's taking it day by day, this is why. She's not soft. She didn't choke,' Catherine said

Unfortunately, it's not so easy to shake off.

'This isn't as easy to fix as just sleeping it off and hoping for a better day tomorrow. It can look like retraining entire routines and tricks. I never mastered my front 1.5 with a full twist because I'd get the twisties and it would mess with my other twisting dives,' she said.

'So. When Simone says she's taking it day by day, this is why. She's not soft. She didn't choke. She isn't giving up. It's a phenomenon every gymnast and diver has experienced and she happens to be experiencing it at the Olympics. Can you imagine the frustration? The heartbreak?'

Catherine's thread has gone viral, and other gymnasts have chimed in with their own thoughts, support, and stories.

'It's hard to explain the twisties to someone who doesn't do gymnastics, but it's a mental block and it's real,' wrote Missy Marlowe, an Olympic gymnast who competed at the 1988 Summer Games.

She's had 'em, too! Missy Marlowe, an Olympic gymnast who competed at the 1988 Summer Games, shared her own experience with twisties

'It's like a non-serious stroke, you're brain and body disconnect,' she said. 'And you can feel how to do something in your brain but you can't make your body respond'

'I had it happen twice, when I was 12 and 20. You cannot fix it quickly — can take months, if at all. It's like a non-serious stroke, you're brain and body disconnect,' she went on.

'And you can feel how to do something in your brain but you can't make your body respond. You can twist the wrong direction, or start out twisting and get lost right on takeoff and you end up bailing out of the skill so you don't crash.'

Gold medalist Dominique Moceanu, who applauded Biles for 'demonstrating that we have a say in our own health,' also pointed out that 'the twisties only get worse with stress.'

Ariana Guerra, a University of Alabama gymnast, chimed in to shared her experience with the twisties.

'At one point in my career when I would try to do a double layout, I would twist instead of doing the double layout. It's scary and it can be dangerous especially landing on hard landings,' she said.

A woman named Becca DiPaolo said that getting the twisties was one of the main reasons she stopped doing gymnastics after 15 years.

She gets it! Gold medalist Dominique Moceanu applauded Biles for 'demonstrating that we have a say in our own health'

Yikes! She also pointed out that ' the twisties only get worse with stress'

'It is the scariest most uncontrollable sensation. Being mid-air with no awareness is the most vulnerable and terrifying feeling. I am praying for Simone so unbelievably hard,' she said.

Retired gymnast Danni Scribani even described her own terrible injury during a bout of the twisties.

'The last time I had 'twisties,' it landed me with a L3-L5 fracture, a back brace, and a wheelchair for a few weeks. It sucks and it can be dangerous,' she said.

It was even worse for former gymnast Jacoby Miles, who was left permanently paralyzed after a case of the twisties.

In 2012, when she was just 15 years old, the was practicing the sport when she landed on her neck. She was a level nine gymnast at the time — just two below the Olympic skill level — when she suffered the devastating fall, leaving her in a wheelchair.

In light of her own experience, Jacoby said her 'heart goes out' to Simone and she is 'so so glad she decided not to continue until she's mentally recovered.'

'I experienced those mental blocks throughout my career as a gymnast, and to be quite blunt, it only took one bad time of getting lost (or getting what they call the 'twisties') in the air in a big flip to break my neck and leave me paralyzed... most likely for life,' she wrote on Instagram.

Meanwhile, other non-gymnasts grasping the concept of twisties for the first time have taken to comparing the phenomenon to 'the yips,' which athletes in many others sports — including golf and basketball — experience.

But the difference between the twisties and the yips, they point out, is that the worst outcome of the yips is a bad performance, while the worst outcome of the twisties is death or catastrophic injury.

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