We got to meet the Olympic Gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles. She was performing at the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how nervous do you get before an event?
It depends on the meet, but recently they have all been pretty good because we have been doing so many sets. So I would say a 4.
What are you thinking about when you perform?
You kind of draw a blank whenever you start performing, but I think about all the sets I have done and how prepared I am. So I try to think of just one skill at a time.
What were your thoughts and feelings after winning four gold medals and a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games?
I haven’t had time to think about it yet because everything has gone by so fast. I have barely been home. It is an honor to compete for the U.S. and everything I have done hasn’t quite sunken in yet. It is super exciting.
Was it your choice to be home-schooled at the age of 13 and do you miss going to either a regular, public or private school?
It was my choice to have home schooling when I was about 13 years old because there was no possible way I could miss as many days as I did and go to public school. But I do wish that I could have gone to a public school and I was always yelling at my parents to figure something out so that I could do both. My eighth-grade year I went to private school that was across from my gym so that helped a little bit, but by high school I had to give it up.
What is your favorite event?
My favorite event is floor because we get to show off a little bit of our personality.
How does it feel to win as many medals as you have at your age?
I feel very accomplished because I am still pretty young and I won a good amount of medals. But we have worked hard for everything we have done.
Have you ever lost faith in yourself or with your teammates when faced with an obstacle?
No. I think everyone is there to support you. They are there for you and they know the troubles you have been through. We are all there to support one another no matter what. Everyone wants to uplift you.
Do you like normal clothes or leotards?
Definitely leotards. Whenever I get to wear normal clothes, I get so excited. I feel so weird.
How much influence does your family have on you?
They have a lot. They remind me to “Be the best, Simone,” and to always give 100 percent or if I go out to do anything, not only gymnastics or school and life and business, just because it is helpful.
Is there a downside to be being such a successful teenager? For example, does doing gymnastics interfere with your social life?
Yes and no. We obviously have our perks. We get cool opportunities for things to do. The other side is that I can’t always go out and eat at a normal restaurant without people coming up to me, so I guess that is the downside. If I spend time with friends and family people always stop you but if they are close friends and family they understand. So you just have to keep yourself grounded.
How do you feel when all those judges are sitting there watching you perform?
It is a little intimidating at first. But I also think of it that I am there to show the crowd what I have been working on for so long rather than them just telling you, you did this, this and this wrong and this is why your score is this.
How was it meeting Zac Efron?
Oh gosh! Meeting Zac Efron was really cool. He is such a good person. He is just like any of us, just like the five of us sitting here. I was really surprised because everyone makes him out to be this huge star but we sometimes forget that they are normal people too.
What do you like to do in your off time?
When I was training for the Olympics, I would either go shopping or spend time with my friends or family, or just lay in bed all day and watch Netflix and rest my body.
As a kid, did you ever think you would be here?
No! There was no way. As a kid I saw the Olympics and all the girls in college gymnastics but I never thought that I would be here and get the opportunity to compete at the Olympics. It was just that I loved gymnastics and it was just something I wanted to do.
How did the double flip and half twist end up becoming your signature move?
On an international stage if you get something named after you, you have to be one of the first to do it, it has to be at a World or an Olympics Games and you have to land the skill that you are trying to do. So you have to submit it to Federal Institute of Gymnastics or whatever, you have to submit it before you do it so they know to give it a rating — however hard it is. And then if you do it, it gets named after you. So I was the first to successfully do it.
Do you think of gymnastics as more of a sport or more of an art?
Oh gosh, I have never had that question before. I think it is a little bit of both because we are like artistic gymnasts. So it is an art itself but it is a sport because there are different levels and you have different drives to do it. So I guess it is a little bit of both — I never thought of that.