Simone Biles said Thursday that she expects to take at least one year off after winning four gold medals, and five overall, at the Rio Olympics.
“I will be taking a year off, I think, just ’til everything settles down, because now we have photo shoots and other opportunities that will come our way,” Biles said in a Sports Illustrated video interview. “It will be really hard for us to be in and out of the gym and train very serious during this time period. So afterwards, then we’ll see.”
Biles, 19, said in August that she would take an indefinite break, though she will participate in a USA Gymnastics tour of shows from Sept. 15-Nov. 13. Retiring U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said in Rio that Biles told her she wanted to take one year off.
Technically, Biles could go one year between competitions and not miss the biggest meets of 2017. The P&G Championships are Aug. 17-20, and the world championships in Montreal are in late September and early October next year.
None of the four previous U.S. Olympic women’s all-around champions competed in the world championships the year after their Olympic triumphs. Nastia Liukin came the closest, placing fourth on the balance beam at the 2009 U.S. Championships after a break, but withdrawing from world championships consideration before the team was named, citing not being in ideal physical shape.
If Biles sits out all of 2017, it will open the door for a new world all-around champion. Biles three-peated from 2013 through 2015.
The top contenders start with the three Americans who finished runner-up to Biles at major competitions in the last year — Olympic silver medalist Aly Raisman, world silver medalist Gabby Douglas and Olympic Trials second-place finisher Laurie Hernandez.
It’s unknown if any of the three will compete next year, but Hernandez figures to be the most probable, since she is 16 and Raisman and Douglas are in their 20s and coming off their second Olympics.
Internationally, 2014 World all-around silver medalist Larisa Iordache of Romania could challenge if she returns to form following an injury-plagued year. Russian Aliya Mustafina took all-around bronze at the last two Olympics, but it’s unknown if she will compete in 2017.
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