Simone Biles is only 20 years old and barely a year removed from winning four Olympic gold medals in gymnastics, but even she cannot get back into a gym after a long layoff without paying a price.
“I couldn’t walk after the first two or three days, but after we got over that hump, it was good,” she said on Tuesday before being honored at the 34th annual March of Dimes Sports Luncheon in Manhattan.
Biles returned to work in Texas on Nov. 2 under a new coach, Laurent Landi, having been out of the sport on a self-imposed break since winning the individual all-around and team golds in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016.
“It’s been pretty crazy, but it’s been good,” she said. “I’m more excited than I thought I would be and I already have all of my skills from the Olympics and I haven’t been doing gym for a year-and-a-half, so that’s kind of exciting.”
So other than soreness, there was no rust in her skills? “I just got them all back,” she said. “I don’t know. It’s kind of crazy.”
Biles hopes to return to competition next summer at the U.S. Classic. By the next Olympics, in 2020, she will be 23, ancient by elite women’s gymnastics standards.
“That’s the ultimate long-term goal,” she said of the Tokyo Games, “but I try not to think too far ahead of myself.”
Biles made social media news for her Nov. 17 tweet weighing in on a Twitter exchange between teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, in which Douglas appeared to suggest women “dressing in a provocative / sexual way” might invite unwanted advances.
Biles wrote: “shocks me that I’m seeing this but it doesn’t surprise me... honestly seeing this brings me to tears bc as your teammate I expected more from you & to support her. I support you Aly 💕& all the other women out there!
Douglas apologized for her tweet and last week joined Raisman in accusing former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexually abusing her.
Nassar, accused of molesting at least 125 girls and young women while he worked for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University pleaded guilty on Nov. 22 to multiple charges of sexual assault and will face at least 25 years in prison.
“I support her 100 percent with the news that she came out about,” Biles said on Tuesday, referring to Douglas. “I think it’s very saddening for any of us to go through that. We were all so young.
“I think the most important thing is to educate your kids about what’s right or what’s wrong whenever you go get examined by a doctor or a physician. It was sad to hear that news.”
Asked whether all is now well between her and Douglas, Biles said, “I meant what I said so I can’t say that I didn’t; that’s why I tweeted that. It’s just saddening to see something like that.”