This Gymnast Might Be America’s Next Olympic Superstar

Photo: Courtesy of Charles Sykes/AP Photo for Kellogg's.
The Summer Olympics captivate the world's attention every four years, and 2016 is no exception. The athletes of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics will be the fastest, strongest, and fiercest that the world has to offer. That group includes gymnast Simone Biles. Just 19 years old, Biles has won three straight world titles. Though the U.S. Olympic team won’t be finalized until after the Olympic trials in early July, it seems all but certain that Biles will be leading the charge to Rio come August. Refinery29 met with Biles to talk about her love for gymnastics, the intense 32-hour-a-week training schedule behind her Olympic hopes, and her relationship with teammate and 2012 Olympic superstar Gabby Douglas.
The Olympics are such a pinnacle moment for an athlete. How do you feel about the possibility of going to Rio?
"I’m really excited for the possibility of my first Olympic run. I have an amazing team behind me. It’s just so exciting and I know everyone’s just so anxious, so when you have the best of teams supporting you, there’s just no other… It makes me feel so happy."

And how do you feel about the responsibility of representing your country?
"I feel like the responsibility is kind of a weight on our shoulders, only because in the past they’ve set the goals and standards so high, and it’s our job to carry that legacy on. But it’ll be very exciting to make some more memories with Team U.S.A. We always hope we can represent Team U.S.A. to our best ability."

What are some of the things you've had to sacrifice in your life to get to the level you're at?
"Public school. I had to be homeschooled, just because if I ever went to public school, I would technically fail in the state of Texas for how many days I've missed for competitions. "I missed it in the beginning. My ninth grade year was really hard, watching all my friends go to public school and go to the dances, and then, obviously senior year, everyone was talking about prom. It was hard, but I got over it very quickly, because whenever you go out and represent Team U.S.A., it's nothing you can compare to a prom dance!"

"If you're having fun, that's when the best memories are built."

Simone Biles
What is a day of training like for you?
"Usually, I work for five or six hours. On Monday and Wednesday, I train from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., and then Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, I train 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then 3 to 6 p.m. And then on Saturday, I train from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. "If we’re gearing up for a meet, then we’re a little more intense with more routines. If we have a little bit of time off before a meet, then we start with some basics and we break down our skills so that we have more consistency and more precision."

What do you do when you’re not training?
"Sundays are my free day, so I go to church with my mom and my sister, and my brother sometimes joins us. We always have family Sunday dinners [when we come home]. My dad is already there at the house, and my other brother and his wife will come over. And so we’ll have Sunday dinner, and then I’ll just lay in bed. I watch Netflix."

I think a lot of us do that on our days off! What are you watching right now?
"Now I’m watching One Tree Hill — I’m the slowest Netflix watcher ever, by the way — I just started it, so I’m hopping on the bandwagon of every other girl. Every other girl watches this! They’ve been telling me to watch it for years, and I was like, ‘Whatever.’ So I finally started. I just finished 90210 and The Fosters."
Photo: Courtesy of Charles Sykes/AP Photo for Kellogg's.

You get compared a lot to Gabby Douglas, who was one of the breakout stars of the 2012 games and is one of your teammates. What’s your relationship with her?

"We’re friends, in and out of the gym. Everyone makes it [out] to be some big rivalry, but we’re just friends! We always want the best for each other, and whenever we have a team competition, we’re just excited that we get to share that memory together. "Sometimes we’ll go to each other's rooms if we need [makeup], like if someone has blue eyeliner or red lipstick. At Worlds, Gabby had me do her [hair] bows."

What advice do you have for young women who are inspired by you?
"I would say to make sure you always have fun [with what you're doing], and to make sure that it's your decision. If it's not your decision, you're not having fun, and if you're not having fun, you might not enjoy it. If you're having fun, that's when the best memories are built."

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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