Simone Biles still eyeing history at Tokyo Olympics
The dates may have changed, but Simone Biles goals at the Tokyo Olympics have not.
Biles, typically very active on social media, had been uncharacteristically quiet in the wake of Olympic postponement, as she took time to process her feelings.
But the four-time Olympic gymnastics champion and 19-time World champion broke her silence Wednesday on NBC’s Today Show, saying she’s still training for the Olympic Games in Japan.
"Physically, I have no doubts that my coaches will get me back in shape," Biles said on the show. "But mentally, going another year, I think that's what's going to take the toll on me and all of us. We have to stay in shape mentally just as much as physically."
Adding, "I'm in contact through text and FaceTime with my coaches to see what the right decision is so we can figure out a plan moving forward for the next year."
Part of that has so far included home workouts, like so many others around the world. Biles even admitted to having done a 'twerk' workout via YouTube earlier this week.
She's staying connected to her family through FaceTime and calls, with her mother Nellie continuing the family tradition of Sunday dinners by dropping off meals curbside at her house.
"Sunday dinners are a big part of our family," she said. "So she's been doing curbside Sunday dinner pickups."
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The American superstar will be 24 when the Games kick off in July 2021. If she’s able to defend her Olympic all-around title as she’s expected to, she’ll be the oldest woman to take the title since Czechoslovakia’s Věra Čáslavská won her second title in 1968 at the age of 26. Čáslavská is also the last woman to defend an Olympic all-around title.
Biles had planned kick off her 2020 campaign this weekend, April 4-5, at the final International Gymnastics Federation all-around World Cup of the season in Tokyo. That competition has since been postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Her coach and 1996 Olympian Cecile Landi expressed her heartbreak at the postponement but promised a strong return in 2021.
“We will regroup and “replan” to get back strong for 2021,” Landi tweeted March 24. “A new story begins."
That story will likely be one centered around Biles. One of the biggest names in Olympic sport, Biles has dominated her sport for nearly a decade, having not lost a competition since 2013.
The Houston-native has potential to earn five gold medals at the Olympic Games. She will be heavily favoured to help Team USA take its third-straight team gold medal. Then, she’ll be looking for her chance at individual glory in the all-around, vault, balance beam and floor exercise finals.
At last October’s World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Biles made history nearly every day. She became the most medalled gymnast ever at the World Championships with 25 and had new elements named in her honour on the balance beam and floor exercise.
But that’s not something she’s keep track of.
“I feel like I don't know a lot of the history behind gymnastics, so whenever I break a record or get another medal, I don't know the history,” Biles told the Olympic Channel in January. “I don't keep count…. I think it's twenty five, but I can't tell you.”
While she knows gymnastics will be what she’s remembered for most, she hopes her contributions outside the sport, including coming forward to share her experience as a sexual assault survivor, are also in the conversation.
“Gymnastics will be a highlight and that's what they'll remember first,” she said. “And, then, probably about me speaking out and being courageous.”
That courage will no doubt be on full display as she recalibrates her dreams for next July.