How a Secret Gym in Japan Helped Simone Biles Train for Her Comeback

After Simone Biles withdrew from the women's gymnastics team final at the 2020 Olympics, her team called Juntendo University and asked if she could train there away from the spotlight.

By Elyse Dupre Aug 05, 2021 12:52 PMTags

The gym at Juntendo University will always hold a special place in Simone Biles' heart.

For it was there the 24-year-old gymnast privately trained after withdrawing from the women's gymnastics team final at the 2020 Olympics.

"I'll forever be thankful for Junetendo for allowing me to come train separately to try to get my skills back," she tweeted Aug. 4. "The Japanese are some of, if not the sweetest people I've ever met." 

According to The Wall Street Journal, the university's professor Kazuhiro Aoki received a call on July 28 asking if Biles could practice at the school away from the spotlight.

"This is a complicated matter," he was told, per the publication. "But this is for Biles." 

The call reportedly came 12 hours after Biles performed her vault routine and removed herself from the women's gymnastics team final—citing a case of the "twisties," or midair disorientation, and a need to focus on her mental health as her reasons for withdrawing. The U.S. women's gymnastics team won the silver medal.

Simone Biles' 2020 Tokyo Olympics Journey

Biles also exited from the all-around individual competition, as well as the event finals for vault, uneven bars and floor exercise. At one point, the Olympian, who had said she felt like she carried "the weight of the world" on her shoulders at times, posted a video of herself practicing a twist on the uneven bars at a gym and falling on her back.

"For anyone saying I quit, I didn't quit," Biles wrote on Instagram along with the post. "My mind & body are simply not in sync—as you can see here. I don't think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health."

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

According to The Wall Street Journal, Biles trained at the university's gym, located in a suburb of Tokyo, for a few hours over the course of four days, joined by her coaches and medical provider.

On Aug. 3, Biles returned to compete in the balance beam final and won the bronze medal, which she later told Today meant more to her than the four golds she won at the 2016 Olympics.

"It means more than all the golds because I've pushed through so much the last five years and the last week while I've even been here," she said. "It was very emotional, and I'm just proud of myself and just all of these girls, as well."

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