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Simone Biles opens up about "Twisties" Struggles, Viral Backlash to Her Husband's Interview

Biles told Call Her Daddy host Alex Cooper about her disappointing Tokyo Olympics, as well her fight to keep her new husband’s name out of the mud.

By Elisabeth Ford
Simone Biles & Jordan Chiles Warm Up To 'Stronger' With Olympic Gymnasts On Gold Over America Tour

Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles got deep on the Call Her Daddy podcast, where she opened up about how her mental health affected her performance and ultimate withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, as well as the pressures being a public figure has had on her personal life.

Alex Cooper hosted Biles on the April 17 episode of her podcast to discuss her upbringing in gymnastics, her side of the story in her Tokyo Olympics mishap, her recent marriage to Jonathan Owens and the backlash to an interview he did on their relationship.

Cooper's viral podcast sensation has led her to host a number of stars, including Biles, Post Malone, Megan Fox and RuPaul. Now, the podcaster will be joining NBC's Olympics coverage as she'll be hosting a series of interactive watch parties this summer on Peacock. Who knows, maybe she'll be able to hang out with Biles again, as the legendary gymnast, who boasts seven Olympic medals and an eye-popping 30 World Championship medals, has her sights set on leading Team USA into Paris.

RELATED: Who's on Team USA? Here's a List of the Athletes Qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics

What Biles remembers from her Tokyo Olympics vault fiasco

The 27-year-old gymnast did not shy away from  her struggle with the “twisties,” which Biles described as when “your mind and your body are at a disconnect.” It is a psychological phenomenon when a gymnast loses spacial awareness while in mid-air.

During the team event at the Tokyo Olympics, while performing on the vault, Biles got lost in the air – performing only 1 and ½ twists instead of 2 and ½ – and botched her landing.

“It’s just like your body, your brain opens up, you have no idea where you are,” Biles explained on the podcast. “So, I open landed like that and as soon as I land, I kind of grin and I’m like, ‘S---,’ and I salute, and I want to run. If I could’ve gotten on a plane and flown home, I would’ve done it.” 

Simone Biles competing in the floor exercise during the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist remembered how she thought “the world is going to hate me” as soon as she stepped off the mat.

“I thought I was going to be banned from America,” Biles admitted. “That’s what they tell you: ‘Don’t come back if not gold. Gold or bust. Don’t come back.’”

Biles said she knew how long it would take her to recover from the “twisties,” which was her ultimate motivation for pulling out of the event.

RELATED: What is the Route for the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays?

“I go to tell my coach and I said, ‘I’m done. I’m not doing any more. Because if I survive that, I don’t know how much else I can survive,’” she told Cooper. “I always say I’m a cat with nine lives, but I think "That was my ninth, I’m done.’

Biles pulled out of the rest of the events, citing mental health concerns as her main reason at the time.

Simone Biles on her husband Jonathan Owens’ viral video

Gymnastics wasn’t the only thing Cooper and Biles got into, since another major event for the gymnast happened in 2023: her wedding.

Biles married Chicago Bears safety Jonathan Owens in April 2023, posting the beautiful ceremony on her Instagram with the caption: “Mr. and Mrs. Owens.”

The couple has been together for four years and married for nearly one, but Biles said their relationship now is “no different. We’re still dating.”

Owens went viral late last year when he admitted that he had no idea who Biles was before they first started dating. In a December 2023 episode of The Pivot podcast, Owens said that he is the “catch” between the two of them, and that Biles is the one who “pulled” in the relationship.

Talking with Cooper, Biles said that she was in the room during the taping of the podcast and thought nothing of her husband’s remarks.

"I was like, 'My man just killed that,'" she joked.

Jonathan Owens and Simone Biles at the Houston rockets game together

But it wasn’t until she saw the comments about him on social media did she realize what a firestorm they'd created.

"So, whenever he did that interview, I thought everything was OK. And then I go on Twitter, and everybody's like, ‘divorce this man, he's mean,’” she said. “I'm like, ‘he's the sweetest. He praises the ground that I walk on.’ Truly, I've never met a man like him.”

RELATED: Everything to Know About the 2024 Paris Olympic Village

Biles admitted that she found the backlash funny at first, but “then they hurt my feelings.” She said she didn’t understand where the hate was coming from because he’s “the sweetest guy and will do anything for anybody.”

"So, that really hurt that they were talking about my husband like that because for me, it's like, talk about me all you want, but don't come from my family. Never," she said.

Now that his viral moment has passed, Biles hopes that Owens will make it to see her at the 2024 Paris Olympics, though it hasn’t been confirmed whether she’s competing.

“Fingers crossed we’ll get to see him in the stands,” she said.

Be sure to check out NBC's Olympic coverage starting July 26 with the Opening Ceremony in Paris. And in addition to NBC's traditional coverage across its family of networks, every event will be streamed live on Peacock.

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