Simone Biles Opens Up About Her New Book & How The Final 5 Stuck By Gabby Douglas

Photo: Courtesy of Nike.
Having won five Olympic medals (four of them gold, one of them bronze) and then literally stopping traffic before leaving Rio, it's safe to say that Simone Biles' years of hard work in the gym are starting to pay off. In fact, this is truly just the beginning; the 19-year-old currently has a memoir in the works and is preparing for a whirlwind jaunt around the country for 2016 Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. She's showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Related: Simone Biles Does What No Other U.S. Gymnast Has Done In 42 Years

On a warm late summer day during her tour's stop in New York City, Biles took time out of her hectic schedule to sit down with Refinery29 at 45 Grand, Nike's showroom and studio. Despite having only slept for three hours the night before (and flying into the city at 2:30 a.m.), she was as energetic as ever, ready to chat with us about her favorite memories from the VMAs, how her signature move (The Biles) was actually born out of an injury, and how she reacted to the Gabby Douglas backlash. She's maybe the most focused and laid-back superstar we've ever met.
You clearly had an amazing run at the Olympics. What were some of your favorite moments?
"Some of my favorite moments were actually just walking around the village and seeing all the different athletes, just seeing every sport come together in one place every morning, that blew my mind. And then obviously winning team gold, that was the biggest accomplishment of ours, and we did exactly what we did in training, so that was obviously exciting. And then every other final, it’s just like cheering on the other girls and then going out and doing our job that was the best thing ever."

What was your experience at the VMAs like?
"That was super exciting! Before I went, I was like, Okay, here’s my checklist: I need to meet G-Eazy, and I need to take a selfie with Kim [Kardashian], and I got to do both. So that was super exciting. But the VMAs, it’s like a big huge celebrity prom, and everyone is fangirling over us, and we were like, ‘No, we need to fangirl over you!’"

Related: The Romance Between Simone Biles & Zac Efron Is Real
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You are known for your signature move, The Biles (a double flip in the layout position with a half turn). How long have you been crafting it?
"I’ve been doing it for three years now, and one time it came about because I was doing my first pass and my floor routine is just a double layout full out, [that's two flips with the second flip having a 360-degree twist]. And one day, I landed short, and my calf was hurting. So then I went to the doctor, and I had partially torn my calf muscle.

"So my coach was like, 'Well if you do a half-turn, [you land forward, which can protect your calf]. No one’s ever done that, and you can get it named after you!'
"So it took a couple of months to get it mastered, but then you have to compete at World Championships to get it named after you."

You've been a Nike athlete since 2015 now what has it been like for you?
"It means the world to me. Every time you join a family, they just want the best for you, so it’s another support system. And you’re gaining a family, so everyone’s there to support you and love you, and it’s nice to come back home.

"So every time I go into a Nike building, it’s just like everyone loves you. It’s just the greatest, and to be able to represent them, obviously it has a special place in my heart, so I can’t thank them enough."

How do you feel about being such an inspiration for girls across the country?
"It’s crazy. I just remember one day, I was [one of] those little girls, looking up to someone and wanting to be them, so I definitely get the feeling. It’s also an honor to know that the little girls one day will be able to be what we are. So it’s always nice to know that."

Did you dream about all of this growing up?
"Not really. I kind of had later dreams of the Olympics, [starting] around when I was 14, 15. But before that, as a little kid, everyone wants to go to the Olympics, but I was never that serious about it. I just said it because everyone says it. But once it became a reality, I was like, Wow, I actually could maybe one day go."
Photo: Courtesy of Nike.

Your teammate, Gabby Douglas, was the subject of some really unfair criticism throughout this Olympics. What was it like to watch her go through that? Did you talk about it?
"None of us talked about it because, honestly, we were so busy trying to do what we went there to do that we weren’t checking social media, like the negatives. But we always tell each other that we’re a family and that’s why we’re here, and we’re here to support each other and to back each other up. So we didn’t look at it, really, because we had other things we had to focus on.

"We’ve always supported her. We’re sisters practically, so every time we’re with each other, we still fight, we still scream at each other, but then we love each other at the end of the day. We miss each other even when we went home for five days. We were just texting each other like, 'I miss you already!' And we spent a month and a half together, and it’s like we’ve had enough of each other — but we haven’t."
Are the Final Five still planning to take a vacation together?
"Yes, we all really want to! It’s just [a matter of] timing-wise, when that will happen. Definitely not this year, we’re all busy, but hopefully next year."

Do you have any ideas on where you want to go?
"Well, they all said Belize because I have dual citizenship and my mom’s from there, so we know Belize very well. And they all want to go because the beaches are really nice."

This year’s Olympics were so dominated by amazing female athletes, but some of the media coverage seemed a little skewed, arguably sexist. What did you make of that?
"We never see that stuff, because the only things we see is our feeds, so that’s not on our feeds because we don’t follow any accounts like that. We just try to reach out to our fans because they tweet at us, they take time out of their day, so we try to do the same. So I don’t know, we didn’t really see anything going on, I know it’s crazy to say, but we’re kept in such a bubble that it’s just like, what’s going on in the world?"

Speaking of media coverage, what did you make of the way the media kind of failed in describing your family? There was this really insulting remark from an NBC commentator about how your parents "weren’t" your parents.
"It didn’t affect me, really. My family is my family, so it doesn’t really faze me, what people say."

And what can you tell us about the book you’re writing?
"I can tell you that it’s on pre-order now, it comes out November 16. And I’m super excited about it! I’m telling my life story...so [that] people hear it through me and not through other things."
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