There’s no question: Simone Biles was the gymnastics favorite heading into the 2020 Tokyo Games. She hadn’t officially qualified yet since trials weren’t until the end of June, but she was pegged to sweep the podium like she nearly did during her first Olympic appearance in Rio. Biles, a member of the “Final Five,” took home five medals — one bronze and four gold — which tied the record for the most won by a US gymnast at a single Olympics. She also became the first American to win four Olympic golds at one Games in women’s gymnastics. However, the call to postpone Tokyo 2020 until 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic caused her plan to come to a halt, as it did for all elite athletes in training.
Biles is arguably the greatest gymnast of all time skill-wise and certainly on paper — she holds the record for the most World Gymnastics Championship medals — and she isn’t worried too much about having to wait another year. Biles found out about the postponement during a training session at her gymnastics gym, she said on the Today show on April 1 (less than 10 people were allowed to train at a time, she noted).
Biles admitted that she cried but ultimately agreed it was the right decision. “We need to make sure that everyone in the US and around the world is healthy and safe,” she said. “It was hard, but it’s OK.” She’s staying connected to her coaches through FaceTime and text to figure out a training plan for the future. For now, though, she’s focusing on walking her dog and completing at-home workouts for her abs, legs, and arms. Biles revealed she’s been doing handstand holds and even followed along to a twerking workout from YouTube recently.
Given that Biles took over a year off after the Rio Olympics and was able to come back even stronger — she picked up right where she left off with a continued streak of all-around titles in every competition she entered — she’s not concerned about losing her edge. “I’ve thought about that a lot and with the year and a half that I took off, I got back in shape and my coaches helped me with that,” she said. “Physically, I have no doubts that my coaches will get me back in shape, but mentally, going another year, I think that’s what’s going to take a toll on me and all of us and most of the athletes.”
Biles concluded, “So, we have to stay in shape mentally just as much as physically, and that will play a big factor moving forward, listening to your body and your mind.” She is also among over 100,000 athletes, according to the Today show, who have donated signed gear as part of Athletes For Relief (for her, it was a leotard). Money from those raffles will go toward the Center For Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Watch Biles’s full video interview on the Today show here, and, while we wait until next summer, take a look back at some of her greatest routines over the years.