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Local coaches, athletes react to Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from Olympics

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 10:28 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There’s a renewed conversation over mental health and its importance in the world of sports after champion gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the Olympics this week.

Bryan Kiser who owns Valor Gymnastics in Baton Rouge used to coach Biles in 2008. Due to the difficulty of what she was trying to perform, he says her decision to not compete possibly saved her life.

“If Simone’s not 100% focused, and she screws up, she could’ve ended up dead,” said Kiser.

Kiser says Biles suffered what the gymnastic world calls the “twisties”. He says it’s where a gymnast loses their awareness while in the air.

He says it comes out of nowhere and just happens.

“It’s not something that one day it’s there and the next day it’s gone, it just comes out of nowhere and it’ll have you feeling lost. If that happens, you have to back off at that point,” said Kiser.

Biles’ announcement grabbed the attention of some of the biggest names in sports, and legends from right here in Louisiana.

Former LSU running back Jeremy Hill says performing at the highest stage can come at a huge price, especially for our kids here at home.

“A lot of these kids are 16 and 17 years old, and they get put in a situation where they’re in the national limelight and they’re on Twitter, people are tweeting about them, people are writing stories about them, people on Instagram reaching out to them, and a lot of people don’t know how to handle that,” said Hill.

Hill says it’s ok to not be ok, but it’s up to you to do what Simone did and ask for help.

“It’s up to you as an adult to go out and get that help. Rather if it’s mental help, rather if it’s just talking to a therapist. Just keeping your mental game strong because that’s what’s going to keep out there for your career. That’s what’s going to keep you hungry, waking up, ready to go work out, ready to be a leader on your team, and if you’re having issues with mental health or depression, that’s just going to make it so much harder,” said Hill.

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