Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles wants to end her gymnastics career on her own terms.
“I feel that I didn't come this far to just give up,” the four-time Olympic champion told BBC Sport in an interview about the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, “and I want to be the one who makes the decision if I'm done with the sport or not."
Since the 23-year-old returned to full-time training in January 2018 after a four gold medal run through the Rio Olympics, Biles has been considered nearly a lock to defend her titles in Tokyo. No woman has won back-to-back Olympic all-around gold medals since Věra Čáslavská in 1964 and 1968.
Everything Biles has done since Rio has been aimed at that history-making accomplishment. Then, she could hang up her leotard after proving herself the greatest female gymnast of all time.
But now with the Tokyo Olympics pushed to July 2021, her three month plan becomes a 15 month journey.
"It's hard to reset the calendar and the clock when you've been preparing your whole life to be ready at this certain time,” she said. "I had my mind set for four years, so how do you go from one day being told 'hey, sorry, another year'?”
The biggest challenges for Biles in the next 15 months will likely not be physical. Her daring acrobatics have pushed the sport even further than she did in the first half of her stellar career. In fact, Biles’ skills are so revolutionary she’s added three of them to the gymnastics rule book over the past two World Championships.
No, for Biles, who told Olympic Channel in January that her first goal for 2020 was to make the U.S. Olympic team, saying “It’s four [women]! Anything can happen, you never know,” it will be almost exclusively a mental game.
"It's a lot mentally and physically, and I doubted my ability if I could even stay on top of my game for another year," Biles said.
"My motivation now is proving to myself that I can go another year, I can do it again, and I can hopefully be better than I was in Rio."