Houston Texans safety Jonathan Owens has been on a roller coaster of emotions while watching his girlfriend, Simone Biles, during the 2020 Olympics.
On July 27, Biles took part in the women’s gymnastics team all-around final. After she attempted a Yurchenko one-and-a-half twist instead of an Amanar midair, Biles went to the sideline to have a discussion with her coach, Cecile Canqueteau-Landi.
The four-time gold medalist then opted out of the rest of the event. Owens could not help but feel “sick to his stomach” as he watched from back in the U.S. as everything unfolded.
“I was sick for her, just because I can see her face, I kind of know her facial expressions, I can kind of read her lips and kind of know what was going on and kind of what she was telling her coach,” Owens, 24. told reporters Thursday.
“I kind of already knew what was going on beforehand, so I was just really hoping she was going to get over it and be able to go out there and perform. So I was sick to my stomach because she wasn’t able to go out there.”
The gymnast later revealed the toll the Olympics, and being the face of U.S. gymnastics, has taken on her mental health. She also said she had been struggling with the ‘twisties,’ which is a phenomenon that can cause gymnasts to lose their sense of space and dimension in midair. Biles later revealed her aunt had recently died “unexpectedly,” only adding to what she was dealing with.
Despite the pair being thousands of miles apart and being away from each other for the longest period since their relationship started, Owens tried to help Biles stay positive throughout the events.
“She was kind of in a funk when everything wasn’t going right,” Owens said. “When you’re used to everything going right for so long, and all of a sudden you kind of hit a hiccup in your performance, you kind of get down on yourself, kind of lose confidence. And that was kind of one of the things I was trying to make sure … keep her positive.
“It was hard for me to really understand what she was going through because I’m not on that stage and dealing with those pressures and everything, but I just try to be as understanding as possible.”
The 24-year-old Biles opted out of the all-around competition and individual vault, floor, and uneven bars event finals, but still participated in the balance beam competition. She managed to capture a bronze medal in the event.
“I was so proud of her,” Owens said. “Just to be able to overcome mentally what was going on. She kind of altered her beam routine, but I was just happy for her.”