Simone Biles has earned 25 World Championship medals, broken just about every record there is and has four moves named after her, and she still has goals she’s looking to reach.
In the June cover story for Glamour, the 24-year-old gymnast opened up about her year in quarantine, how she struggled with depression after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and when she, the greatest gymnast in history, plans on hanging up her unitard.
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Biles explained that being in quarantine and unable to train forced her to reexamine how she spent her life outside of her work. So much of her time was spent focusing on pushing her body to its limit to remain in gold medal-winning shape. Being unable to train while Texas went into lockdown compelled her to find balance in her life. So she focused on finding happiness with self-care that included hanging out with her boyfriend, Jonathan Owens, and finding a hobby.
“Before I would only focus on the gym. But me being happy outside the gym is just as important as me being happy and doing well in the gym,” she said. “Now it’s like everything’s coming together.”
Another part of that balance was therapy, which Biles admitted she was apprehensive about. In the end, she realized, “It’s okay to ask for help if you need it.”
She added, “One of the very first sessions, I didn’t talk at all. I just wouldn’t say anything. I was like, ‘I’m not crazy. I don’t need to be here.’ I thought I could figure it out on my own, but that’s sometimes not the case. And that’s not something you should feel guilty or ashamed of. Once I got over that fact, I actually enjoyed it and looked forward to going to therapy. It’s a safe space.”
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It all helped Biles feel more confident and at peace with herself as she claimed her seventh U.S. all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this month. Her years of experience and newfound peace have allowed her to find true joy in the sport she excels in, which she said is the only way she’s still in the game.
“I’m not a little girl anymore. It’s definitely up to me. Nobody’s forcing me. Whenever you’re younger, you feel like it’s a job, and you have to be pushed. But now it’s like, ‘This is what I want to do, so that’s why I’m here,'” she shared. “At the end of the day, we train for so long to compete for two, three minutes total. It’s like, ‘Where’s the fun in that?’ If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth it.”
As she gears up for July’s Tokyo Games and the Gold Over America Tour — a post-Olympics gymnastics tour that prioritizes fun over technical superiority — Biles said she’s focused on the future. The Tokyo Olympics were supposed to be her last, but with her new zest for the sport, this won’t be the last we see of her.
“I’ve already done quite a lot, but I’m still trying to reach new heights and see what I’m capable of,” she said. “I’m just really excited to see what’s out there in the world and to see what else I’m good at. My coaches Cecile and Laurent are from Paris, so I think [the Paris 2024 Olympics] would be a good run to end with them there. I’ll see where we go.”
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