Simone Biles Reflects On The Olympic Games

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.
After winning five medals (four of them gold) at her Olympic debut, and becoming the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history, Simone Biles can handle anything, it seems. The gymnast capped off her two weeks of Olympic domination by serving as the flag-bearer for the closing ceremony Sunday night. Though this wild Rio ride is winding down, it's far from over for Biles and her team, who have a 36-city victory tour across the U.S., starting September 15. Refinery29 recently caught up with the 19-year-old Texan to talk about her time in Rio, how she nailed it under pressure, and what's next.

What are your thoughts on your Olympic debut?

"It's been a dream come true. It's everything that me and the team wanted it to be because we did a very successful job. We hope everyone back home is proud." Did you go into it thinking you might become the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history?
"Not necessarily. We came into these games very well prepared and confident in our routines that we've been doing in practice. We did it so many times that once we got out there, we were stressing not to change anything because it had worked so well for us during training."

Tell us about your daily schedule in Rio.

"Most of our mornings started at 9 or 9:30 a.m. A couple of sessions began at 8 a.m., but other than that, they were pretty good. We trained for a couple of hours a day for almost five weeks straight. Afterward, we'd get massages or have downtime if anyone needed to hot tub or ice tub before going to bed. We also liked to lay around in our rooms and watch TV shows."

Once you get up there, you're on autopilot because you've just done your routines so many times.

Simone Biles
So, I have to ask, how did you handle the pressure of being the gold-medal favorite for every event?
"I just tried to ignore it and do my own thing because it's worked so well. If you don't let the hype and pressure get to you, then you're better off. Sometimes, if I get nervous before a meet, I'll either talk to the girls or just give [myself] a little pep talk." For the all-around team events, it seemed to get really loud between the crowd, the music, and the announcers. Was it distracting or fun?
"The crowd was not like anything we've experienced. This was probably the best audience we've ever had. They were so engaged, and we loved that. It helped us out. For event finals, they got a little bit quieter because it's only one athlete at a time versus two or three events happening at once. But they encouraged us a lot and it was very fun." Do you prefer it to be loud versus dead quiet?
"Yes, especially for beam. If some of our girls had already gone, I'd tell them to cheer really loudly for me so that it wouldn't be silent in the arena."

Someone during your individual beam event yelled “Finish strong!” Did you hear that?

"Yes, I could! We have selective hearing, so I could catch certain people, like our teammates, [coach] Márta [Károlyi], and sometimes my mom. “Finish strong” was probably one of the girls."

You nailed the floor exercise with a near-perfect score the day after a disappointing beam. How did that feel?

"Nailing it means hitting the best sets that you've ever done. You just feel so ready and confident that you just go out there and nail it. Once you get up there, you're on autopilot because you've just done your routines so many times." What surprised you most about the Olympic Games?
"How tall the other athletes were! Since we're around gymnasts all the time, we don't feel like we're that short. But in the [athletes'] village cafeteria, I just felt like I was going to get stepped on there. I felt like an ant." What are your post-Rio plans?
"First thing we're going to do is our post-Olympic tour with Kellogg's. We'll tour 36 cities across the U.S. Looking forward to it!"

More from Global News

R29 Original Series