Reigning world and Olympic all-around gymnastics champion Simone Biles said that coping with the mental strain of waiting another year for the Tokyo Olympic Games would take a heavy toll on gymnasts.
Biles, who turned 23 last month, told NBC’s Today show that she expects that coaches would help her get in top condition, but that getting her mind in top shape in July a year later than planned would be difficult.
“Physically I have no doubt that my coaches will get me back in shape,” Biles said. “But mentally going another year, I think that’s what’s going to take a toll on me — and all of us, most of the athletes.”
“We have to stay in shape mentally as much as physically, and that will play a big factor moving forward, listening to your body and your mind,” she added.
Biles told the Wall Street Journal that she had been planning to retire after the Tokyo Games this year, but added that she is playing next year’s Tokyo Games “by ear.”
Biles won all-around, vault, floor and team gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and owns five all-around world titles among the 19 world titles that she has won since 2013.
After taking off 18 months following the Rio Games, Biles returned to top form with a goal of success in July in a sport that has dominated much of her time since she first tried it at the age of six.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for one year, a delay that she learned about by telephone in the locker room during training.
“I didn’t really know what to feel,” Biles said. “I just kind of sat there — I cried — but ultimately it was the right decision. We need to make sure that everyone in the US and around the world is healthy and safe. It was hard, but it’s OK.”
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