Religion of Sports’ Versus series for Facebook Watch has been an interesting combination of standard documentary and first-person narrative series, with series director Gotham Chopra and his team getting up close and personal with athletes. Both Tom vs Time and Stephen vs The Game (on Tom Brady and Stephen Curry, respectively) revealed interesting sides of their subjects, as has the third series, Simone vs Herself (on Simone Biles) through five episodes so far. The final episodes of Simone vs. Herself , airing as a two-part finale on Monday, Sept. 27 and Tuesday, Sept. 28, may be particularly interesting, as they’ll be covering this summer’s Olympic trials and then the Tokyo Olympics themselves.
Those Olympics included Biles’ much-discussed struggle against “the twisties” (a sudden midair loss of body control that’s well-known in gymnastics). That led to her missing a vault, and to her eventual decision to withdraw from the team event, the all-around final, and the floor final, before competing in the beam final and winning bronze. The bronze there tied her with Shannon Miller with seven Olympic medals, the most won by a U.S. female gymnast, and also tied her with Larisa Latynina of the Soviet Union with 32 world championship and Olympic medals, and Biles’ public discussions of her mental health and the challenges she was facing also won her a lot of support. But there was some criticism for her as well, with some commentators downplaying the severity of what Biles was battling. In a trailer for these final episodes, though, Biles talks about how worried she was about her body not responding to what she was trying to do:
“I’ve been having these mental blocks in the gym recently. It’s not been fun. It’s been scary. I’m getting lost in my skills. In gym, we call it the twisties. It’s becoming dangerous. I’m worth more than winning gold. …People are like, ‘Oh, she quit.’ But I’m not a quitter, I’m a fighter.”
It certainly will be notable to hear more from Biles herself on this, and to hear some of her comments from during the Olympics. And while the two-year journey Religion of Sports went on covering Biles may not have ended with the slew of golds many expected, they wound up with a fascinating story from a different direction. We’ll see how these final episodes turn out.