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Simone Biles Liked Tweets That Revealed Just How Dangerous Her Vault Was And How She Could've "Literally Died" If She Hadn't Withdrawn From The Olympic Final

Biles went on to say that the love and support she's received since withdrawing has made her realize she's "more than [her] accomplishments and gymnastics."

Posted on July 29, 2021, at 7:35 a.m. ET

Simone Biles has released a statement thanking fans for their support after the 24-year-old gymnast withdrew from an Olympic final to focus on her mental health.

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

On Wednesday, it was announced through the USA Gymnastics Twitter account that Biles would be withdrawing from the women's individual all-around final, which was due to take place on Thursday in Tokyo.

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Biles entered the Games as a favorite to win the event, having arrived in Japan as the defending Olympic champion after her win in Rio five years ago. And, despite some shaky moments during prelims, Biles went on to qualify for the all-around final in first place.

"After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health," the statement read. "Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week's individual event finals."

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"We wholeheartedly support Simone's decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being," the statement continued, revealing that ninth-placed American gymnast Jade Carey would be competing instead. "Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many."

In a tweet following the announcement, Biles thanked fans for their kind words, writing: "The outpouring love & support I've received has made me realize I'm more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before."

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

The news of Biles's withdrawal followed a dramatic turn of events during the team finals on Tuesday, which saw the gymnast experience what she later called "the twisties" during her first vault, leading her to pull out mid-competition.

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Biles had been set to complete all four rotations for Team USA during the finals, but appeared to be shaken as she took to the vault, usually one of her best events. To the untrained eye, Biles misjudged the move, performing 1.5 twists instead of the 2.5 she'd meant to and landing with a big correction. However, stills of the vault in motion show Biles seemingly disoriented.

Following the vault, she left the competition floor before withdrawing from the event altogether, only returning to support her teammates from the sidelines.

Biles later revealed she'd experienced "having a little bit of the twisties,", something other gymnasts could immediately relate to. The term "twisties" is used to explain a mental block that can appear out of nowhere and make a gymnast lose their sense of where they are in the air or perform an extra twist that they hadn't meant to. This is dangerous for multiple reasons, not least because it can leave a gymnast, unable to see where they are, vulnerable to a dangerous landing that could lead to serious injury.

In fact, former gymnasts told Deanna Hong, a producer for Golden: The Journey of USA's Elite Gymnasts, that Biles was lucky to have even landed the vault in the first place without dire consequences.

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"One former US elite gymnast I talked to said that if it was someone other than Simone Biles who had made that same error, they would have certainly blown a knee, at minimum," Hong tweeted. "Another said if it had happened to her instead of Simone, 'I probably would have ended up paralyzed.'"

"Most non-gymnastics fans do not understand the seriousness of what happened because she landed on her feet," Hong continued. "Every elite gymnast I've talked to has said that Simone Biles's vault was TERRIFYING and it's a miracle she put that vault to her feet & avoided seriously injuring herself."

Biles herself liked multiple tweets about experiencing the twisties, including this explanation that revealed how dangerous the vault could've been.

Another tweet she liked from someone who'd also experienced the same thing read: "As someone who did a vault while having the twisties, resulting in temporary paralysis, a 3 week hospital stay, months of physical therapy, and a toll to my mental health, I couldn't be more proud of @Simone_Biles decision, even on the world's biggest stage."

Considering "the twisties" could lead to serious injury, it's therefore unsurprising that Biles has since chosen to focus on her mental health over the pressures of competing, something she'd also opened up about recently.

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"I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times," she said following team qualifications on Sunday. "I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard."

Biles has since liked and retweeted a bunch of supportive messages, subtly shutting down the debate over her decision to withdraw from the events and focus on her mental health.

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

"I don't think people realize that [if] Simone Biles isn't feeling right mentally she can literally die doing her gymnastics," one tweet the gymnast liked read. "That's how hard the shit she does is. One wrong move and it's disaster."

"She didn’t 'quit on the team' she calculated the risks of falling and how it would impact the team score," a tweet Biles liked about her withdrawal said. "She also calculated the chance of the others hitting their routines and taking a medal still."

Biles also retweeted a message that said: "Did she cost the team a gold medal? Or did her decision help her team win a silver medal? Because if she had a really bad performance her team would not have placed at all."

Biles is next scheduled to compete in the individual finals for all four events in the women's gymnastics, with the first being the vault, quickly followed by uneven bars, on Sunday.

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Whether she will compete in all, some, or none of the events is yet to be confirmed. But, whatever decision she makes, as the most-decorated American gymnast of all time — with 4 Olympic and 19 World Championship gold medals and four skills named after her in a sport she's dominated — it's fair to say that Simone Biles has nothing left to prove. 

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.