NAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Simone Biles is back in the gym. That’s it. That’s all.
The Olympic gymnastics champion is in no hurry to declare whether this is the start of a comeback following a year off after her historic performance at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. And she’d be just fine if everyone else took the same approach.
Asked Saturday why she started doing semi-formal workouts earlier this month, Biles shrugged her shoulders.
“I don’t know yet, that’s the thing,” Biles said. “What’s the hardest point of all is everyone has already set expectations for me for my comeback before I’ve come out and said it.”
Which, Biles stressed, she hasn’t. The last 12 months have been a welcome break following her run atop the sport, a stretch that included three straight world all-around championships and five medals (four gold) in Rio.
The 20-year-old joked the only exercise she’s done since she got back from Brazil is walking her dog, though that’s not exactly true. She participated in a post-Olympic tour and competed on “Dancing With The Stars,” some of the perks of her newfound celebrity.
Life is starting to calm down a little. Her family is working on turning one of the rooms in the massive gym and lifestyles center they opened in 2015 into Biles’ personal office. That kind of sounds like a job, which Biles insists it’s not.
“(Mom) better not tie me not too much to the gym,” Biles said. “I’m not trying to be there all the time unless I’m training.”
Which she’s currently doing, just not nearly at her pre-Olympic level. There is no formal plan either. Part of the problem is Biles doesn’t currently have a coach. Longtime mentor Aimee Boorman left Texas for a job in Florida last fall and there’s no plan for a reunion. For now, Biles is just kind of feeling her way and having one of the current coaches at the World Champions Centre check in occasionally to see how she’s doing.
“Aimee went to Florida, so it’s hard for even the coaches to look at me and gauge what’s happening because they weren’t there before,” Biles said. “That’s difficult. We’re taking it day by day.”
For now, it’s just basic skills like back handsprings and leaps. Maybe a couple of layouts. No tumbling. No vaulting. A bit of beam. A lot of questions.
Biles sat in the stands at the U.S. championships on Friday night and watched as her sport went on without her. It was more than a little weird. She misses competing. All the work in the gym is another matter. She’s well aware it will take countless hours to get anywhere close to the form that helped her make history. She also won’t have to look far for advice.
Fellow “Final Five” teammate Aly Raisman won three medals in 2012, took a two-year sabbatical and was back on the world championship team by 2015. Raisman called Biles’ uncertainty a natural response to the daunting work that could lay ahead.
“I think a lot of people sometimes think you take a year off and you can just go back and do a floor routine just like that,” Raisman said. “I think it took me at least two full years to do a full floor routine since I stepped in the gym. I spent like six months just conditioning.”
Biles would prefer not to wait that long to figure out whether she’s serious. For now she’ll just wake up each morning, figure out how she feels, go to the gym and kind of make it up as she goes.
“I’m still getting my body right and see how I feel,” she said. “Yeah, testing the waters basically.”
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