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Russian Former Gymnast Svetlana Khorkina Defends Simone Biles

Russia's Svetlana Khorkina is famous for being highly critical of US gymnasts, but this time she chose to defend Simone Biles after she ...


Russia's Svetlana Khorkina is famous for being highly critical of US gymnasts, but this time she chose to defend Simone Biles after she withdrew from the team and individual all around finals in order to focus on her mental health.

"First of all, she was under major pressure of responsibility and all the attention," Khorkina told russian.rt, when asked if Simone did not have enough mental capacity left for Tokyo Games.

"I’ve seen all her pre-Olympic videos when Simone was invited everywhere. I’ve been in such situations as well – I was constantly reproached for getting distracted from the training and told that was why I was making mistakes."

"But when you’re over 20, you can’t be constantly focused on just gymnastics. You need to try something new and show not just your athletic side, while staying at the top. The time doesn’t stand still."

"New champions come, past ones get forgotten, but you want to stay interesting to the public. But that’s not the only issue."

"Biles truly demonstrated incredible difficulty in her routines, just out of this world. I think that her issue was technical first of all, and not mental. It happens."

"My good friend and a very good gymnast who I won’t name here even retired because of this issue. We won Olympic team silver in Atlanta together and a year later she said: “That’s it, Sveta, I’m retiring because I’ve got the twisties. I’m not ready to endanger my life.” I have to say that I understand her – artistic gymnastics is not just doing roll-outs on the floor."

Khorkina went on to confirm that Biles had the twisties, a dangerous condition where gymnasts lose their sense of spatial awareness.

"I’ve rewatched the team final – the moment when Simone does vault – many times. She definitely got lost in the air and it’s terribly dangerous," the former gymnast said in the interview that was translated by Gymnovosti. "Very fortunately, Biles is so physically strong and well coordinated that she landed on her feet."

Yesterday, Khorkina took to Instagram to wish Simone speedy recovery.

"Yes, there is such information that the leader of the US artistic gymnastics team will not take part in the absolute all-around (women). It happens - this is the Olympic Games and here, which just does not happen🤦‍♀️. I personally have always treated my opponents with respect and I am sorry that we will not see her performances at these competitions. I wish her a speedy return to the Olympic tournament! But today, men are absolute 🙏 and my family and I have already prepared, to worry and root for our guys Good luck✌️" she wrote according to Google Translate.


Khorkina is one of the most successful Russian gymnasts. She is a double Olympic champion on uneven bars and the first gymnast to win the three World all around titles.

She retired in 2004.

Written By Gigi Farid

Photo via Instagram

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