Simone Biles, in the middle of a four-month break from competition, recently flew to New York for the Sullivan Award ceremony, where she sat down with OlympicTalk to answer questions on a range of gymnastics topics.
Biles, the two-time reigning World all-around champion, next expects to compete at the Secret U.S. Classic in Hoffman Estates, Ill., on July 25.
Here are excerpts from the recent interview:
OlympicTalk: You won the Jesolo Trophy in Italy last month, and then you and the team took a selfie with [national team coordinator] Martha Karolyi. How did that happen?
Biles: That morning we took about an hour bus ride to Venice, took a gondola ride and ate lunch. We actually got to get pasta. That never happens. Then, we shopped an hour or two. When we met back up, they [teammates] were like, I wonder if Martha would take a selfie. We had a selfie stick. I was like, I have no problem asking her. She was really happy about it, actually.
OlympicTalk: [First-year senior] Bailie Key finished second to you at Jesolo and may be your biggest competition now. What’s she like?
Biles: Most times, she’s pretty serious, but I have those times where I can joke with her.
OlympicTalk: Aly Raisman said this of you, she “always behaves as though she’s just had about six cups of coffee, even at 3:30 a.m. as we were leaving for the airport. She’s not just energetic in the gym — Simone wakes up at 6 and goes to bed around midnight.” True?
Biles: She says that I’m pretty crazy and hyper, but it’s different because she’s always taking naps. I can’t take naps. I try to fall asleep, and it doesn’t happen. Me and [Jesolo roommate] Maggie Nichols usually tried to go to bed around 10:30 or 11, and then we were always up so early because of the time change. So I don’t really understand how Aly can sleep in so much. She’s like, ‘I’m an old grandma. I need to sleep.’
OlympicTalk: What’s your relationship like with Romanian [World silver medalist] Larisa Iordache?
Biles: When we’re with each other, we like to joke around and talk about our family. We Snapchat each other, but it’s not really cool conversations.
OlympicTalk: What about the Russians?
Biles: We don’t really talk to them. I think some of them are maybe intimidated by us because Martha.
OlympicTalk: Has your hatred for the uneven bars changed at all?
Biles: We’ve worked a lot on that lately and my self-confidence. I don’t think of it as my enemy anymore, because I’m not bad at it.
OlympicTalk: You have an escort when you watch your little sister, Adria, at her meets now. Why?
Biles: I forget who I am sometimes. So I’m like, oh I get to watch my sister compete. Then all these little girls run up to me, and I’m like why are they running up to me? Ohhhhhh. So I sometimes forget [who I am]. So we sometimes have an escort to get me to my seat or get me onto the floor so I don’t bother people, or people don’t bother me.
OlympicTalk: Can you still enjoy watching your sister compete?
Biles: Of course. I can sign [autographs] in between rotations, so I’m always focusing on [Adria].
OlympicTalk: You’re committed to UCLA starting after the Olympics, but could you turn pro and skip college gymnastics?
Biles: So far it’s collegiate gymnastics, but we really haven’t decided on anything.
OlympicTalk: Your margin of victory at the 2014 World Championships was a little smaller than in 2013. Do you feel like the competition is closer?
Biles: I’m not sure. I feel like it has been closer, but I focus on myself out there. I look at my scores sometimes to see if it was a good routine, but other than that I don’t really pay attention.
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