For those who have ever watched the Olympic Games, there’s a good chance Andrea Joyce’s voice has been heard coming through the speakers. For decades, Joyce has covered a wide array of Olympic sports from figure skating to speed skating, diving, and gymnastics. She ranks among the most distinguished and longstanding Olympic voices, and for good reason.

In Paris, Joyce will be reporting from the sidelines for NBC at the diving competition and serving as a sportsdesk reporter. It will be her 17th Games, but she admits she still gets a little giddy when she hears the NBC Olympics theme song. For Joyce, being in the company of the world’s best athletes and telling their stories is something that never gets old.

As the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials kick off in Minneapolis, I had the opportunity to sit down with Joyce to discuss her new book, 'Legends of Women’s Gymnastics,' the impact Simone Biles has had on the sport, and some of her favorite moments in Olympic history.

Congratulations on your new book “Legends of Women’s Gymnastics.” How did the idea for this come about? 

Thank you! I was contacted by the publisher and I assume they had done some research and realized I had covered the sport for more than a couple of decades. For me, it was not anything I had planned on doing or thought about doing, but once I started diving into it, it was so much fun. 

There’s so many legends in the sport of gymnastics, how did you narrow it down to just 28?

I think that was the hardest thing I had to do. The title is 'Legends of Women’s Gymnastics,' not 'The Absolute All-Time Best.' I basically consulted with former NBC researchers, other commentators, and former gymnasts, and I had everybody compile a list of 28. I put them all together in a spreadsheet. The ones that got the most votes were the top 28, and the ones that made the cut. But it was hard; we definitely could have gone to 35 or 40.

Do you have any idea how many of those gymnasts you covered in your career? 

I think about half of them. The great thing is, I’m a little neurotic about my preparation for the Olympics — for any sport — and I save my notes. So I had all my notes from Carly Patterson, I had my notes from Nastia Liukin — and of course I worked with Nastia for many years. I had my Simone Biles notes and my Gabby Douglas notes, so it was really fun to be able to go back. And when I say notes, they’re literally notes. They are not in a computer, they are written on legal pads, and I had quotes, so I can draw from that. That was one of the things I said to the publisher. I said, ‘Do you want this to be personal?’ And they said, ‘Absolutely.’ So I could say what it was like to be there when Simone withdrew in Tokyo; what that moment was like, what she said to me, and how she continued to compete later — remember she came back and competed in just one more event and won the bronze medal on the balance beam. I remember her saying to me afterward that this medal would hold such a special place in her heart because of what she had been through. All of the golds and all of the championships she’s won, but that bronze meant more to her than just about anything.

I’m really curious to know where you are keeping all of these notes… 

I keep them in a file cabinet, organized sport by sport. I’ve got my tennis files, my figure skating files, and files for short track and rhythmic gymnastics. I’ve also got skiing and track and field files – each has its own special place in my filing cabinet. You never know when you’re going to be called on to do something again, so I like to be prepared.

Out of all of the stories in your book, do you have a favorite? 

For me, some of these stories, when you look back at them, are compelling. Agnes Keleti survived the Holocaust; half of her family died in Auschwitz, and she didn’t compete in the Olympics until she was 31 years old. One of my favorites is Larisa Latynina, who was the most decorated Olympian of all-time until Michael Phelps surpassed her record. She was in London when he broke it, in her 70s, and she was such a great sport about it. He broke her record and what does she say? 'I'm so happy that a man could break my record finally,' It was so funny, just that little dig. I love those stories and when young readers read them, I hope it's fascinating for them. But honestly, my adult friends love the book too. 

You’re sort of a legend yourself when it comes to the work you’ve done as a sportscaster. Do you have a favorite moment from your time covering gymnastics? 

I go back to what happened in Tokyo and what happened to Simone because it was so dramatic and compelling. When she got the twisties and decided to withdraw, it took so much courage on her part to make that decision. And we’re all scrambling and trying to figure out what’s happening. For the next few days we had no idea if we would see her again. To see her come back and not just come back, but compete the way that she did on the balance beam – the emotion when she finished that routine, not just from her but all of her teammates – everybody was in tears. The family and friends weren't there for Tokyo but she had her phone out and was already talking to her family and it was this incredibly emotional moment. To talk to her about it after and realize that that was so important to her because of what she had been through. It didn’t have to be a gold medal. That was one of the highlights. I also think when Nastia won gold, that was fabulous. Nastia had this back and forth in 2008 with Shawn Johnson. Nastia wins one competition and Shawn wins another – nobody really knew what would happen once we got to the Olympics. The way she performed with such grace – both of them – those are remarkable moments. And any time someone shows up that surprises people, like Gabby Douglas in 2012. Gabby was not necessarily the front-runner. Everyone thought that Jordyn Wieber was the ‘it girl’ and then she didn't qualify for the all-around final. Then all of a sudden, here comes Gabby and she just wows everyone. It was this electric, fabulous moment. On the men’s side there were terrific moments and in other sports too – I could talk your ear off!"

I want to dive a little deeper into Simone’s journey. You covered her career through her first Olympics in 2016, all the way until Tokyo. Now she’s gearing up for her third Olympics as the most decorated gymnast of all-time. What do you make of her journey and everything she has achieved in the sport?  

It’s interesting because I don’t remember what the event was, but when she first went from being a junior competitor to a senior competitor – it might have been one of those U.S. Classics – but she didn’t do very well. There was a lot of hype and a lot of talk about her and she did not do very well. When we talk about her now, we forget that her journey is much like anyone else's. She had failures and she had success and she built on everything. She always talked about learning from every single competition. Now, it didn't take her very long to turn it around – for some of us it takes a lot longer to overcome our missteps – but she kept building. What I’m most impressed with now is that she does not have to do the level of gymnastics that she does in order to win. She could water every single routine down and still be the Olympic all-around champion in my opinion. But she chooses to do it. She’s doing it for herself. She’s not doing it for any other reason in the world. She’s doing it for herself, to push herself. And I’m so impressed with that. 

I think it’s fair to say Simone is going to Paris if all continues to go well, but as we gear up for Trials, I have to ask the question on everyone’s mind: What is your Olympic team prediction? 

It’s interesting because I’ve been on a text chain with all of our researchers who are in Minneapolis and we’ve been texting non stop - nobody agrees on a team! Everybody has a different team! I would say – and I’m not there so I’m not exactly sure how she’s doing in the days of practice leading up to Trials – but I would think that Shilese Jones would be close to a lock. Suni Lee, I believe, is performing very well. And I think that beyond that, it’s truly up in the air whether they want to take specialists or what they decide to do. 

Paris will be your 17th Olympic Games and your 13th with NBC. What are you most looking forward to? 

You would think that at my age, having done this for so many years, that I’d show up and say, ‘Been there done that.’ But I hear the NBC theme music and I get goosebumps and I get giddy. I’m a true Olympic enthusiast and I love every single event I get a chance to watch. I know it sounds so corny, but for every Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, and Noah Lyles out there, there are hundreds of athletes training in relative obscurity their entire lives for this one moment, and they might not even end up on a podium, but it doesn’t matter — they’ve fulfilled this lifelong dream. To witness that and be a part of it — whether it’s table tennis, team handball, swimming, or beach volleyball — it’s this wonderful human connection for me at the Olympics, or even when I’m watching on television. You have this human connection where you’re celebrating similarities, cheering these athletes on from every country, hearing their stories, and being inspired and moved by them. It feels like we’re part of a world community and it brings us together. There’s not just one thing I’m looking forward to; I’m game for anything!