With Tokyo far off in the future, Simone Biles just wants to do 'fun gymnastics'
After she won five Olympic medals in Rio, everyone wanted to know what gymnast Simone Biles was planning for the next four years. Retirement? Tokyo? World domination? Instead, the all-around champion gymnast is taking it "day by day," focusing on making the most of her time in Brazil, then preparing to visit 36 cities on the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, kicking off September 15 in Spokane, Wash.
In a phone interview, Biles spoke about "traveling the world with your sisters," what her parents said to her after the competition, and why the race walkers in the Olympic Village really impressed her.
How are you spending the last few days of the Rio Olympics?
Closing [Ceremony] is in two days so today, just working with a lot of people to get interviews and everything done and then tomorrow the girls and I want to go to the beach or go and see Christ the Redeemer and try to relax and take it all in. And then Sunday is Closing so we’re super excited for that.
Are you planning to go and see any events?
Tomorrow we want to go watch diving so we can see Steele Johnson and David Boudia dive, and as well as Tom Daley. So we’re going to try and get tickets for that.
You and the Final Five are going on the 36-city Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Tour of gymnastics champions in mid-September—what are you planning to do before the tour kicks off?
We fly directly to New York to do some things, and then we’ll go home and just be with our family and our friends and just spend time there before we head off to the Kellogg’s tour.
What are your preparation like for the tour?
You know, I’m not exactly sure. We’ve just been focusing so much on this Olympics that we leave everything else up to everyone else before we get there. But I do know that we have tour rehearsals before the tour but other than that we’re day by day and that’s it.
What are you most looking forward to about performing in the Kellogg’s tour?
I’m excited to be with the girls and to be doing fun gymnastics, you don’t have the pressure or the stress, it’s just something fun to do.
You’ve been with your teammates [Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez] non-stop for about a month and now you’re going on tour together—what will that be like?
It’s been an amazing experience and we’ve gotten so much closer, so that’s always very fun to be with them because we’re like sisters. So it’s like traveling the world with your sisters so I think that’s pretty fun.
You're roommates with Laurie, right? What is she like as a roommate?
Everyone thinks I’m the craziest but I think Laurie has me beat. She’s even crazier than I am, but we room very well together because our personalities are very similar and we both have high energy. So we’re very good roommates.
What’s the vibe like in your room? Are you the room where nobody ever sleeps?
That’s what Aly says. If you ask Aly, she would say we’re the room that never sleeps but we get plenty of sleep.
What was the most surprising thing about your Olympic experience?
Everything is expected so there’s nothing crazy… I wouldn’t say we didn’t expect it but the speed [race] walkers around the village they are very mighty and fast. I don’t know, I always pictured them walking around the village and once you see them it’s like "Whoa, they’re actually working out" it’s funny.
Have you gotten to meet a lot of athletes from different sports?
The cafeteria is where you see a lot of the athletes so we’ve gotten to see a couple of them, but we’re used to usually just coming in and out to eat really quick so we can get to practice or get to bed or something. But it’s cool if you ever see one.
Were there any Olympic athletes that made you starstruck?
We really wanted to meet Usain Bolt, and one of the days he did come in when we were in there, and Aly and Gabby about flipped the table and sprinted over there like crazy. But it was kind of fun because their inner 5-year-old coming out and they were starstruck. And Laurie and Maddie were keeping it calm, and I was like “You can’t do that!” But they were just so excited.
Has your relationship with your coach, Aimee Boorman, changed at all over the course of Olympics?
No, if anything it’s made us even stronger than before and it was very strong, so it was kind of cool that we get to share this experience with each other. She’s been there since the beginning with me, really everything together, so it’s really like the cherry on top.
Did she say anything special to you after the competition ended?
Yes, well she was crying as well and said "I’m so proud of you" and I would tell her "Thank you for everything."
Speaking of crying, I don’t know if you saw your family up in the stands but they looked like they were crying more than you!
Yeah, most definitely.
When did you see your family in person and what did they say to you?
The first time I saw my family in person, it was the day after all-around finals. They said how proud they were of me and how well me and the team did, and how happy they were for us and it was so exciting.
You’ve known Martha Karolyi for a long time—what’s your favorite Martha memory?
Being with her all the time I have so many good memories because she pushes us to be the best that we can be and we wouldn’t have done it without her. But I think my memory from this Games is after team [final], everyone went up to tell her our team name and why we chose the name, and she started crying she was so excited. And I think that was my favorite memory.
What’s one thing Martha’s said to you that’s changed your gymnastics?
She would always tell me, "You’re not doing this for me, you’re doing this for yourself."
You’ve been in a lot of commercials back here in the U.S.—have you gotten to see yourself on TV?
No, because in the Olympic Village we just have the Olympic channels and we haven’t gotten to see anything. But I know I’m all over the States and it’s pretty crazy because my friends and family will text me about it and say, “Simone, you’re literally everywhere I go.”