Simone Biles competes at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships on Oct. 13, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany.
Simone Biles might not be able to train in the gym right now, but the four-time Olympic gold medalist gymnast is keeping herself active in other ways.
Including doing some moves that haven’t been part of any of her medal-winning routines — at least not yet.
“I’ve been doing more body work, so, abs, arms, legs,” she said from her Texas home during a live appearance on NBC’s “TODAY” show Wednesday. “The other day I did a YouTube, it was like a twerk workout, I guess. Yes, it was a twerkout! But it was a lot of squatting and conditioning, so I got my legs going, and walking my dog. We’re doing press handstands and handstand holds and stuff like that.”
Like other athletes worldwide, Biles’ big plans for 2020 have been delayed a year with the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Although she hadn’t yet qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team, there was zero doubt that Biles was going to be in Tokyo adding to her five medals won in Rio in 2016: gold in the team, all-around, vault and floor and bronze on balance beam.
Now that will have to wait, which Biles admitted was difficult news to hear.
“I was actually in the gym training at the time because we were allowed under 10 people, so our elites were training,” she said. “I went to the locker in between rotations and I got a text and I didn’t know what to feel. I just sat there and I cried, but ultimately it was the right decision. We need to make sure that everyone in the U.S. and around the world is healthy and safe and so it was hard, but it’s OK.”
Biles, 23, took a year and a half off from gymnastics following the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and came back even better. She became the most decorated gymnast of all time at the world championships in 2019, winning five gold medals for the first time ever to bring that total to 19 and her overall world championships medal total to 25. She debuted a new vault and a new pass on the floor, both of which now bear her name, and was named both the Female Olympic Athlete of the Year in the 2019 Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, and the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.
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Now, she said, she’s been in contact through text and FaceTime with her coaches trying to figure out a plan moving forward while she can’t be in the gym, but she isn’t worried about getting back into physical shape when the time is right.
“But mentally going another year I think that’s what’s going to take the toll on all of us,” she said. “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.”
Another disruption to daily life for Biles?
Seeing her family.
She told the “TODAY” show hosts that she hadn’t seen her mom in two and a half weeks, which is rare in her tight-knit family.
“Sunday dinners are a big part of our family but we haven’t been able to go to my parents’ house, so she’s been doing curbside Sunday dinner pickup,” Biles said of her mom, Nellie Biles. “So that’s the best thing that we have.”
In the meantime, Biles is trying to help in the fight against COVID-19 by donating a signed leotard to the “Athletes for Relief” charity. She hasn’t been “very out there,” she said, about the epidemic because she’s still battling with a lot of the decisions and uncertainties, but she jumped at the chance to help. Anyone who donates at least $25 will be entered into a raffle to win items donated by hundreds of athletes from around the world and across various sports, and the proceeds will go to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy's COVID-19 Response Fund.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.