Part 1 – Meet Simone Biles – This photo was taken in 2018 at the Voice of America (VOA). It’s the largest and oldest international broadcasting company. It didn’t say why Simone was there, but maybe she stopped into say she was back in the gymnastics game again.
Did you know she took 2017 off? I didn’t! That was the year after the 2016 Brazil Olympics, and Simone won 4 gold medals, the most ever for an American gymnast. I’m glad she took a year off.
Simone probably started training nonstop in 2011. That’s when she became an elite gymnast. Imagine training as your full-time job, and school what you fit around it.
And Me Too – I never found her training schedule, but I considered going into music. I played 2 instruments, and I was told to practice an hour a day, per instrument. That was the minimum to go into music, not to become a GOAT. I wonder what Simone puts in, on 4 pieces of equipment, per day.
Can you imagine the stress of being a GOAT? You always have to deliver. There’s no room for mistakes, and everyone makes those. Did you watch Simone in team qualifications, or in the preliminaries? She was GREAT, but not perfect. She looked unhappy after each performance, even though she was at the top of the leader board.
I wonder, if Simone’s a perfectionist. I’m a recovering one. I’m learning to be OK with mistakes, but I used to go over them, over and over, endlessly. Now I stop when they teach me something that will help me grow. I have a feeling Simone does that too.
I was shocked, when I heard Simone dropped out of the team finals. She put endless hours into each of her 4 routines, for 4 years. You don’t invest that kind of time, that kind of effort into something, then quit. I don’t, and I bet Simone doesn’t either.
You keep going, whether you’re injured, or sick, until you hit a wall that tells you, YOU HAVE to. For me, it used to be losing my voice. Then I could call in sick and get my kids a substitute teacher. For Simone, it was the twisties, and they don’t look like this photo.
Part 2 – What’s a Twistie? – It happens when a gymnast is flying through the air. They can’t tell where they are, or where to land. Planes have the same problem in fog. They don’t know which way is up, or down.
I discovered twisties on July 28th when USA Gymnastics announced Simone’s withdrawal from team competition. I was shocked till I learned more. Simone said her mind and body just weren’t in sync. She also said she didn’t think many people understood how dangerous gymnastic surfaces can be.
Take a look at the picture above. It doesn’t look dangerous. Then look at the one below. It is! I thought Simone was upside down. NOT – she was in the middle of one of her twisty-airborne moves. If she lost focus, she might have landed on her head, or neck. YIKES!
Simone also talked about not having an inch of control over her body, not knowing where she was in the air. But even scarier, she had no idea how she was going to land . . . or where. I can’t imagine being brave and talented enough, to keep going after that first twistie.
I didn’t know Simone had the twisties before Tokyo, on floor and vault. This year the bars & beam piled on too. YUCK! I’m glad she took a break, but I’m also glad she came back and won bronze in the balance beam. I read that she did it for herself. Yay, Simone! Here’s to your new life beyond gymnastics!
Part 3 – Daring Young Gymnasts – Do you remember the song about the daring young men on the flying trapeze? Now they’re flying around equipment in the gym. They’re defying gravity and some of the laws of physics. It’s crazy good, also a little scary.
Did you know that about 100,000 gymnasts are injured every year? The most common injuries are wrist fractures, cartilage damage, and ACL tears. Did you also know that gymnasts are starting earlier and doing more difficult moves?
Death is rare in gymnastics, but it happened to Melanie Coleman after a fall from the uneven bars. It also happened to Julissa Gomez in 1988. She was vaulting and slipped off the springboard. Falls are dangerous.
Adriana Duffy and Sang Lan were both paralyzed by vaulting accidents 11 years apart. I’m glad there’s a new, safer springboard and horse for athletes today.
Men and women both vault over them, the gymnastic kind. Men also twist and rotate around pommel horses. It’s amazing what gymnasts can do, and they make it look so easy!
Here’s the new springboard and horse. Look at the old one, then the new one. Can you see how they’re different, and why the new one is safer? I’m so glad someone figured that out.
Take a look at all the positions this young man rotated through in a few seconds.
WOW! Gymnasts are amazing!
How Can You Protect Your Young Gymnast? – I picked 10 tips to share. To read all of them click on this link: Safety Tips: Gymnastics (for Teens) - Nemours Kidshealth
1. Wear the proper equipment – wrist straps, guards, grips, and footwear. Use spotting belts for new moves.
2. Warm up and stretch. That’s true for any sport.
3. Only practice on padded floors, not a hard surface.
4. Find a good coach! Somone who knows the latest in safety. A good coach will spot you when you try new/difficult moves.
5. Tell your coach if you’re uncomfortable with a skill. If you can’t, tell a parent or an adult who’ll help you. Kids don’t want to tell anyone. I saw it with my own, and with my 2nd graders. Sometimes parents had to tell me what their child wouldn’t.
6. Don’t try a new move at a game or competition, UNLESS you’ve practiced it A LOT.
7. No jewelry, gum chewing, or clothes that can get caught on equipment.
8. Never train alone.
9. STOP! If you get hurt or feel pain. Then get it checked out by a grown-up.
10. Play other sports so that you don’t overuse the same muscles. That leads to injuries.
CONGRATULATIONS to the Olympic athletes from all over the world! Win, lose, draw, or withdraw – you played the games and did your best. Thank you for the memories, for the inspiration you’ve given us, especially to the young athletes waiting in the wings for their turn. THANK YOU!
PS – OOPS! I forgot to write about mindfulness, but lucky for me, I already did! The link below will tell you what it is, and show you a few exercises that are great for kids.
PPS – They can help us grown-ups too!
Link: Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach
1. Simone Biles reveals depths of twisties problem at Olympics (nypost.com)
2. Simone Biles - Wikipedia
3. Gymnastics deaths are rare, but previous disasters have prompted safety changes - CNN
4. Safety Tips: Gymnastics (for Teens) - Nemours Kidshealth
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!