US Olympian Simone Biles thanked a ‘secret’ Japanese gym Wednesday for helping her get back in the games during her mental-health break.
The legendary 24-year-old gymnast posted a note on Twitter expressing her gratitude to the Junetendo Univesity facility, where she retreated to stay sharp after dropping out of most of the sport’s events in Tokyo.
“I’ll forever be thankful for Junetendo for allowing me to come train separately to get my skills back,” she wrote. “The Japanese are some of, if not the sweetest people I’ve ever met.”
Biles entered the Olympic games on a high note after winning four gold medals during the 2016 games in Rio, with more expected.
But she struggled from the start, uncharacteristically stumbling and stepping out of bounds during the floor exercise and finishing seventh in the balance beam competition.
She stunned the sports world by withdrawing from the team final and several subsequent events — citing the pressure of the competition and saying she had a condition called the “twisties” that prevented her from controlling her aerial spins.
“I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard…”
Two days later, Juntendo University professor Kazuhiro Aoki got a call requesting permission to have “a gymnast” use the school’s gym, the Wall Street Journal said.
Biles trained at the facility until returning to the competition this week, winning a bronze medal in the balance beam competition.
Now she says she hasn’t ruled out competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics.