Simone Biles

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Simone Biles to headline post-Olympic gymnastics tour

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Simone Biles wants to bring gymnastics to the masses and plans to bring some of her friends along for the ride.

The Olympic and world champion is headlining a tour in the fall of 2020 that will be a mixture of sports and entertainment intended to inspire the next generation of female athletes. The “Gold Over America” tour will visit more than 35 cities, including Biles’ hometown of Houston as well as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The idea originated when Biles was in the early stages of her return to gymnastics in the fall of 2017 after taking a year off following her memorable performance at the 2016 Olympics, where she won four gold medals and five in all, becoming the face of her sport.

“When we found out I was coming back, we kind of sat down and talked about things I would want to do,” Biles told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “They said it could be as small as starting a perfume line or maybe as big as a tour. I was like, ‘Actually, that would be pretty sweet. That would be the coolest thing ever.’”

The women-only roster will reunite Biles with longtime friend Katelyn Ohashi. Ohashi and Biles competed against each other growing up. Like Biles, Ohashi — the 2012 junior national champion — had designs on competing at the Olympics before injuries sidetracked her elite career. She instead attended UCLA, helping the Bruins win the national title in 2018 and becoming a viral sensation last winter with her Michael Jackson-themed floor routine.

“She made her mark,” Biles said. “She put college gymnastics and gymnastics … back on the map. She has impacted a lot of female gymnasts and I think this really brings us full circle.”

The tour will also finally allow Biles to join forces with former UCLA coach Val Kondos Field. Biles verbally committed to compete for the Bruins before turning professional in 2015. Kondos Field, who retired last spring, will serve as executive producer and supervising choreographer for the tour.

Biles said the goal is to bring the sport closer to the audience and also to loosen things up a bit. The plan is to utilize giant video screens, pyrotechnics and an in-house DJ.

“We want this to be completely different,” Biles said. “There will be dancing. Hopefully trampoline. Something people have never seen before.”

Biles captured five gold medals at the 2019 World Championships to boost her career total to 25 medals overall, a record for both men and women. She is widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time, and her face has been at the forefront of television promos for the 2020 Olympics, where she will try to become the first woman in more than 50 years to repeat as all-around champion.

While there are times she admits she’s still processing her fame, she’s is starting to understand her influence on the sport. It’s one of the reasons she agreed to headline the tour.

“In a way, it’s scary,” Biles said. “But at this point I also feel like it’s really exciting to have a platform that I do and to be able to do some of the things that I’ve been blessed with. I think it’s a combination of both. So I don’t know. We went back and forth on if we wanted my name in it, but you never know. I think it’ll be OK.”

USA Gymnastics typically coordinates a post-Olympic tour of its own, though there are no plans for one in 2020. The organization remains in bankruptcy court as it tries to reach a resolution with athletes who were sexually abused by former national team doctor Larry Nassar, who abused gymnasts — Biles included — under the guise of treatment.

Biles said she hasn’t spoken to anyone at USA Gymnastics directly about her tour but added, “I know they’re aware about it and they’ve been pretty supportive.”

“Simone is an amazing athlete and person, and having her own tour will give her a stage to showcase her skills and talent, as well as those of other women,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement.

Just how many athletes will join Biles and Ohashi remains uncertain.

“We’re looking at the top of the line and the best gymnasts from elite and maybe we did think from around the world, but that gets really, really difficult just because of the visas and all of that stuff,” Biles said. “Right now in the circle I know a couple of college gymnasts and then elite gymnasts (who will be on the tour), like world class.”

Biles is in the midst of a recovery period following her record-breaking performance at the world championships. She said she anticipates returning to competition in April before the U.S. Championships, the Olympic Trials and then the Olympics next summer.

Then it’s likely off to retirement and a chance to make an impact far beyond the competition floor, a process that will start with the tour, where she will have her hand in selecting the group and helping put the show together.

“I feel like everyone’s creative vision coming together is very unique,” she said. “And so I think once we get together and we have a set plan on what we’ll do, it’ll be very exciting.”

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Nathan Chen, Simone Biles, U.S. women’s soccer team win Team USA Awards

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Simone Biles was named female athlete of the year and Nathan Chen took the corresponding award for men Tuesday at the Team USA Awards in Los Angeles.

Six-time Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who has taken up wheelchair CrossFit competition since an ATV accident in 2014 left her paralyzed from the waist down, took the Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award. She works to help other people with spinal cord injuries through the Amy Van Dyken Foundation and Amy’s Army, which has launched a Wheels for Kids program to help injured children find wheelchairs that may not be covered by insurance.

The show also included a medal ceremony in which the teammates and family of the late Steven Holcomb received silver medals that were reallocated after doping infractions changed the results of the 2014 Olympic bobsled competition.

MORE: Holcomb’s legacy lives on 

Award winners from the ceremony:

Female Olympic athlete of the year: Simone Biles, gymnastics 

Biles took a one-year break after winning four gold medals and a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics, then came back to do even better, unleashing new skills on the balance beam and in the floor exercise. This year, she won five gold medals at the world championships, breaking the record for career medals.

Female Paralympic athlete of the year: Oksana Masters, Para Nordic skiing and Para cycling 

Already an eight-time Paralympic medalist in Nordic skiing, biathlon and rowing, Masters had a breakout year in cycling, taking silver medals in the world championships. In Nordic skiing, Masters took five world championships (three cross-country, two biathlon) and the overall World Cup championship in sitting cross-country along with a second-place overall finish in biathlon.

Male Olympic athlete of the year: Nathan Chen, figure skating 

Chen had a double back-to-back year, winning his second straight world championship and his second straight Grand Prix final. He also started his 2019-20 season by winning both of his Grand Prix events. He and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu are far ahead of any other skaters in posted scores this season.

Male Paralympic athlete of the year: Ben Thompson, Para archery 

Thompson took the world championship and the No. 1 ranking in the men’s compound event and led the U.S. to a world record in the team compound event.

Olympic team of the year: U.S. women’s soccer team 

The team claimed the sport’s biggest prize for the second straight time, working its way through a difficult field that included a quarterfinal matchup with host France to win the World Cup once again, adding to its previous wins in 1991, 1999 and 2015.

Paralympic team of the year: U.S. sled hockey team 

Like the women’s soccer team, the sled hockey team went unbeaten in the world championships and claimed a fourth world title.

MORE: Golden goal clinches championship

Olympic coach of the year: KiSik Lee, archery 

This year, Brady Ellison won a world title and set a world record in the Pan Am Games, and Ellison teamed with Casey Kaufhold to win the world title in the mixed team event, which will be on the Olympic program in 2020.

Paralympic coach of the year: Wesley Johnson, paratriathlon 

The founder and head coach of Balanced Art Multisport in Salt Lake City, Johnson is the personal coach of three top-10 paratriathletes, and he served as an assistant coach in the world championships, where three of the athletes he coached won silver medals.

NBC will have highlights of the show at 2 p.m. ET Dec. 22.

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Simone Manuel dresses as Simone Biles for Halloween

Simone Manuel, Simone Biles
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Simone Manuel dressed for Halloween as a fellow Texan, fellow Olympic gold medalist and fellow Simone. That would be Simone Biles.

Manuel unveiled the costume Thursday night on social media, donning a red and blue leotard that closely matches the one worn by Biles and her countrywomen in the team final at the recent world championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

Manuel wasn’t done. She then posted a video of her doing a pair of cartwheels in the costume.

“I’m better at flips in the pool than I am on land,” was tweeted from her account.

Manuel and Biles should be among the busiest U.S. athletes at the Tokyo Games, should they qualify.

Manuel, after earning four golds and three silvers at this past summer’s world championships, could swim in as many as six Olympic events.

Biles just became the first gymnast to win five gold medals at a single worlds since 1958.

A tale of the tape between Manuel and Biles:

Simone Manuel Simone Biles
Hometown Sugar Land, Texas Spring, Texas
Height 5’10” 4’8″
Olympic Debut 2016 2016
Olympic Medals 4 in Swimming 5 in Gymnastics
World Championships Debut 2013 2013
World Titles Since Rio 9 9
Pets Snails Dogs

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