As she pursues a historic fifth World all-around title, Simone Biles met the press Tuesday morning in Stuttgart together with Coach Laurent Landi. Here are a few of the highlights and moments we loved from the GOAT!
Photo by Lloyd Smith
At the 2013 World Championships, the announcer didn’t even know how to pronounce your name. How different is it being Simone Biles in 2019 than it was six years ago?
I feel like the difference was a lot. I came in as a rookie and not knowing what to expect and now going into 2019, I feel like I have a lot of expectations for myself and to uphold my name. It’s a little bit different, but I feel like it’s really exciting to go out there and represent myself and the country and hopefully do the best of my ability.
What new skills will you be competing and how confident are you to show them?
On floor, I’ll be doing a triple double and on beam, as a beam dismount, I’ll be doing a double double. We’re deciding on which competitions to do them. I’ll do it in podium training just to get a feel of the atmosphere out there but other than that, I feel really confident with the skills that I’m doing and I’m really excited to do them and hopefully get them named after me at this competition.
How has the team dynamic changed with Morgan Hurd not being there and Sunisa Lee getting close to you in the all-around?
I feel like this year our team dynamic is really strong. We have six really strong all-arounders and that’s different than any other quad I feel like, just because there’s only four named to a team so if you have an alternate, anybody that will replace somebody has to be a strong all-arounder. I feel like this year we have a lot of strength in the team on all of the events as well as the all-around. So any event that we go up, we can put any girl up and we’re not really afraid of the outcome. I’m feeling pretty confident with the six girls that we have here.
Do you feel that you are getting even more attention than before? We don’t have Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, so you might be the biggest star of the Olympics in Tokyo.
I don’t know, I guess I didn’t really think of that. Going into an Olympic year or a non-Olympic year, I never really feel like I’m a big name because everybody puts that on me, I don’t put it on myself or I don’t really pay attention. So going into every year I just try to be better than I was before.
Do you see yourself with a long career like Oksana Chusovitina and if not, what do you think of her career right now?
I feel like, she is very brave and has a lot of courage. I definitely, unfortunately, will not be going until I’m 44 years old. But I think [turns to Laurent and asks if Oksana does 3 or 4 events]… Oh, she does the all-around? I won’t be trying that. [Laughs] She’s very brave!
To Coach Laurent Landi: How has it been going, trying to improve the best gymnast of all time?
It’s been going well so far. You don’t have to think about it, otherwise you cannot do the job. My job is to help her… to develop her as much as possible, to help her reach her full potential. This is what we train to do every single day in the gym, my wife and I.
Has this changed you as a coach, to see the potential that Simone has?
We all knew the potential that she has, but of course, as a coach, it helps me because it’s another vision. When you’ve never coached somebody as talented as she is, it makes you better. It has its challenges, nobody wants to admit it.
Simone: I give him gray hair.
Laurent: We don’t need to talk about this now. It’s a challenge, but it’s a very rewarding challenge. It makes us reach very, very deep and find new answers to gymnastics pretty much.
Can you elaborate more on how you give Laurent gray hair?
I don’t know, I just stress him out sometimes, especially during meet weeks. I have my ups and downs with training, too. I’m not perfect. I feel like it’s a team effort, it’s not just me. It’s both of us as well as Cecile. So it’s not always easy on them when I come to the gym and do some crazy stuff.
A lot of people will watch these Championships because of you. Is there a message you would like to send out to them?
I appreciate everyone coming out to watch or on TV. It’s really rewarding for us to get to show our gymnastics and showcase it at a meet like this. It’s one of the best meets of the year and I feel like we’re all really excited to go out there and just have fun.
Are you a little bit afraid to change your character to be the best in the world?
I feel like if I were to label myself “the superstar” it would bring more expectations on me. I would feel pressured more in the limelight, rather than now where I just go out there and compete and try to represent Simone, not Simone Biles. Because at the end of the day I’m still a human-being before I’m Simone Biles “the superstar.”
If I’m not mistaken you had the GOAT on your leotard at Nationals. Did that not work out for you?
[Laughs]. I actually love that and it was kind of just a joke because everyone was picking at us like ‘who does she think she is?’ If everyone calls me the GOAT and I wore it, why is it such a big deal? So that’s why we came up with that leo. It was fun.
Do you have any impression of Stuttgart, or has there been no time?
So far, we haven’t been able to do anything. I know the Team USA girls are actually on a walk right now, so I guess I’ll ask them how it is whenever I get back. I’m sure we’ll explore later.
Last year, you won six medals but I know you weren’t satisfied with your performance. How much of a motivator has that been?
It’s been really motivating in the gym to go out there and have better performances this year. I’ve had a couple of mistakes in previous competitions this year, so hopefully it goes better. I’m feeling a lot more confident with myself and with my routines, so I feel like this World Championships will go a lot more smoothly.
Text photos by Grace Chiu