Simone Biles, at 22, is not only by far the world’s best gymnast, but she is also probably the only homeowner competing at Saturday’s U.S. Classic, a tune-up for next month’s U.S. Championships.
With age comes responsibility. Biles, who turned professional in 2015, knows this well. The other day, one of her coaches, Laurent Landi, reminded Biles that gymnastics is her job.
“It’s still my hobby!” Biles said, recounting the story. “Don’t tell me that. It’s scary.
“I’m going to try to push off adulting as much as I can.”
Biles plans to compete in all four events on Saturday (7 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA), aiming to extend an unbeaten all-around streak since then-coach Aimee Boorman pulled her struggling pupil out of this meet in 2013.
The U.S.’ other headliners are in Louisville, including Morgan Hurd, who won the 2017 World all-around title during Biles’ one-year break. Plus the rest of the competing members of the 2018 World title team.
Biles, who won last year’s world all-around by a record margin despite balance beam and vault falls, is prepared to increase her already unmatched difficulty.
She performed a triple twisting double tuck somersault in floor exercise training, which no woman has done in major competition, but said she will not throw it on Saturday night. She also has an upgraded balance beam dismount, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Biles averaged nearly seven tenths more difficulty per apparatus than the next-highest gymnast in the 2018 World all-around final. She still surprises herself in raising her own standard.
“[Coaches] ask me to push past my boundaries that I already thought I exceeded before,” she said. “I just look at them like you guys are crazy. Then I do it, and I’m like, OK, maybe I’m the crazy one.”
She could wonder if the risk to her execution score is worth adding the difficulty of extra flips and twists when she’s already so far ahead. She doesn’t.
“Every year you should try to be better than you were the year before,” Biles said. “So it doesn’t matter how far ahead I am. I should try to better my gymnastics and myself.
“If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have been like, there’s no way I’ll upgrade from this, and now I’m continuing to upgrade. I’m just like, geez, how much more can I do?”
It’s a less finite answer now that Biles is leaving the door open to competing beyond the Tokyo Games. She said in 2017, in returning to training, that she expected to retire after the 2020 Olympics. Now?
“I’m just trying to get through 2020 first, and then we will see where it goes,” she said, according to the Chronicle.
Biles is finding ways to stay fresh, taking personal days from the gym, even napping, something she used to kid Aly Raisman for doing. Biles and other gymnasts jokingly called Raisman “grandma” in the last Olympic cycle. Raisman was 22 in Rio. Biles turns 23 in 2020.
“I feel like I rot more than I did before,” said Biles, in line to become the oldest U.S. Olympic female gymnast since 2004. “I can’t waste one ounce of energy. … My friends are like, let’s go to lunch. I’m like, is it going to be quick?”
NBC Olympics researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report from Louisville.
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