After what she describes as a “unique” Olympic experience and a grueling extra year of training due to the pandemic, Simone Biles remains uncertain about what’s next for her competitive gymnastics career and a potential bid for the 2024 Paris Games.
But she’s more than OK with that.
Instead, she’s been enjoying her long-awaited free time with her family and friends, preparing for the upcoming “Gold Over America” tour and working on a slew of ventures with her sponsors, including her own collection of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) with Autograph that launch on Monday.
“[I’ve been] relaxing, resetting, working on these new projects,” Biles said. “Been in the gym a little bit here and there to train, but not too much. Just taking time off, enjoying life.”
Any training, at this point, has been casual.
“[I’m] still very much undecided [about returning to full-time training],” Biles said. “The most training that I’m thinking about right now is tour, because coming off of not only [an] Olympic year but an extra year because we had to train for five years, which was totally unplanned, your body takes a beating. So trying to recover from that and get through a tour.”
Biles, 24, earned a silver with the U.S. team as well as a bronze on beam at the Tokyo Olympics. An overwhelming favorite to defend her 2016 Olympic all-around title, she withdrew midway through the team competition citing her mental health, then withdrew from all of the individual events until balance beam.
Competing a routine with a lesser-degree of difficulty than normal on beam, Biles received a large ovation from the crowd that was in attendance and received messages of support from fans and peers around the world.
“I definitely felt that love and support,” said Biles. “So I couldn’t ask for anything else because I just wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t really know what to expect [ahead of the beam final], but to just feel the love and support and have everybody rooting for me, after everything that had gone on and not the way I planned, was so good to see.”
Biles said the Games weren’t what she expected, but she remains grateful for the overwhelming encouragement she received.
She even received a “heartwarming” text message from tennis star Naomi Osaka, the four-time major champion who sparked an ongoing conversation about mental health earlier this summer, which Biles admits she still needs to respond to.
“I’m so bad at texting back,” Biles said. “But she’s inspired me in so many more ways than just being dominant recently. I know she knows exactly the feeling that I was going through, so it’s nice to relate to somebody on that high level.”
It was Osaka’s involvement with Autograph and NFTs that got Biles most excited for the partnership. Biles is hopeful her collection will sell out in just a few minutes, like Osaka’s did.
She will then turn her attention to the tour, which includes many of her Olympic teammates, as well as other elite and NCAA stars of the sport. The tour gets underway on Sept. 21 in Tucson, Arizona.
“I’m most looking forward to seeing and meeting all the fans,” said Biles. “We’re going to 35 cities and that’s always super exciting to see and perform in front of the fans, especially without having a crowd in Tokyo. … It’s always really fun, especially if we have days off and we can explore the cities. And we’re like a family, so it is really nice to continue that journey and have a little bit of a party around the U.S.”