She’s Got This Gym

She’s Got This Gym – Simon Biles: ‘I’m going to take care now because sometimes I don’t want to set foot in the gym’

Simon Biles, four-time world champion, winner of three Olympic singles gold medals and one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, is 4ft 8in, but that doesn’t just happen in flight. In a space similar to the Hungarian World Champions Center, the sports complex in the suburb of Houston, Texas, stands at the end of a paved bridge. All morning, Biles hung out with a team of gymnasts, some as young as six, who are already fully trained at the facility and so used to seeing Biles, Mom says, they hardly look twice. (Occasionally, says Biles, “We’ll have a new kid and they’re just staring at it. It’s different than usual.”) For her part, Biles trains with an off-the-cuff style of preternaturally talented, almost seminal kind. . The grace that you see at the top of the tennis pulsating or stimming at the stadium, and at the back what are extraordinary forces. And then he starts running.

She’s Got This Gym

She's Got This Gym

Last year, Biles returned to gymnastics after 12 months, and is still adjusting to the demands of her schedule. After practice, we sit in the office that overlooks the big gym area, Biles with the track down over her leotard, and talk about what it’s like to be 21 and at the top of your game, the pressure to be the best in the world. and how Biles knows where she is when she’s on the air.

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He sometimes looks younger than his years, a product of the purely religious upbringing of a professional child athlete. To others, she sounds like a 45-year-old woman who should be a candidate for political office. Colera turned the tables at the World Gymnastics Championships in Doha last October and has two moves named after her (“Biles”) – the second of which is described in the vault by the International Gymnastics Federation as “closing with flic-flac”. ½ turn (180°) wide jump with 2/1 turn (720°) e”.

However, his appeal beyond the world of gymnastics – which is why I have heard so many women say when his name comes up: “Oh my God, amazing” – is not only physical and mental strength, so that they excel in such. hard smile What was revealed last year was Biles’ morale. In the race, he spoke in the same breath as Serena Williams, but the resonance I find in her is Muhammad Ali. The sport’s governing body, USA Gymnastics, has been deeply offended by the behavior of its coach, Larry Nassar — ​​who is now serving a life sentence for sexually abusing young gymnasts in his care, including Biles — won’t. hold your tongue, “It really should.”

What hinders me, he says modestly, is something in our conversation. “But I will certainly say something.”

“When you get to a higher level, there are 100 other elite athletes.” Photo: Dylan Coulter/The Guardian. Hair and makeup: @Gemini Tresses. Leotards GK.

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It is a reminder, watching the morning workout, that competitive gymnastics is a wonderful world to baptize babies into babies. Female gymnasts are said to peak at 16, the minimum age at which they can compete in senior-level events, including the Olympics. While male gymnasts grow up with puberty and become stronger competitors, their female counterparts are generally considered more effective as children. “You want to be light in the gym, you want to be in demand,” said Biles, who started slowly at the age of six. “For women, once you go through puberty, you get a toy, you get breasts, and it’s harder to do gymnastics because they go into different things.” She smiles. The sobering fact is that, while 16 is the official peak age, in reality many female gymnasts are considered to peak at 12.

This proves the scene at the World Champions Center, which is owned by Biles’ parents, Nellie and Ronald. On one side, toddlers play with their parents on the children’s gymnasium, while on the other, a coach drills little girls, many of them already nationally ranked, working on the asymmetric bars. The air smells like every gym in the world, dust and chalky feet – and there are big pictures of Biles on the walls. “Run, but keep your head down, honey,” shouts the coach of the small under-10. “Don’t pull your head! Elbows! Bend your ass! What are you doing with your legs? Work a bend! Bend! More! More! More!” The boy walks, as cats land neatly on his feet. “That’s bad, Sophie. That’s not good. It’s like your chest.”

If I have children, I will probably recruit them, despite the horrors of what happened to me

She's Got This Gym

I guess, I say to Biles later, the all-prize-everything philosophy hasn’t reached competitive gymnastics yet? “No,” he said, smiling. Cholera was introduced to gymnastics by accident, like a hyperactive rainy day six years ago. She recently moved to the suburbs of Houston from her native Ohio and was adopted by Nellie and Ronal, whom she calls Mom and Dad, even though they are technically grandparents. (Biles’ birth mother, Shannon, with whom she has minimal contact, struggled with addiction and was unable to care for her siblings. Her biological father, Kelvin, was never a part of her life.) Initially, “It was. somewhere to get her safely,” says Nellie, a nurse who ran a nursing home consortium and knew nothing about gymnastics at the time. (She and Ron went into the gymnastics business after Biles won the world championship title in 2013).

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“I was just another little kid on the block who used to run and jump around,” Biles says. Shortly after joining the gym, a coach observed Biles doing a “seat drop”—a jump from a sitting position onto her feet as if the floor were on a trampoline, something she couldn’t do for six-year-olds. . Meanwhile Biles’ unaccustomed physical strength was such that, while the other boys were thrown a few feet from the floor, she was flung on a rope to the ceiling, until they all called her to come down.

‘I was just a kid on the block who used to run and run.’ Photo: Dylan Coulter/Custor

In all this there was no moment of thunder. “I was pretty young and I just knew it was a lot of fun and I wanted to do it,” Biles says. “But that’s not the point.” In fact, it didn’t occur to him that he had talent until he was 16, when he rose through regional competitions to the US Junior National Team and finally to senior competition. She almost immediately won the singles all-around women’s event in Antwerp at the 2013 World Championships. But I say with some disbelief that you have already worked at such a level for 16 years. Do you understand that you came first to be good? “But when you get to a higher level, there are 100 other elite athletes. I don’t want to say I’m lucky, but if you look at it, there are hundreds of thousands of gymnasts in the US, and they only make four teams. That’s pretty much how the lottery plays. You just never know.”

Like most professional athletes, he has worked incredibly hard on himself and competes less with others than with his own internal models. In the past, Biles’ mother carefully tried to convince her that she was almost always the best gymnast in the room, but that’s not how Biles sees it. (This is, of course, the opposite of what athletic boys are told less, that it’s the best everyone looks at their goals. This doesn’t seem to work with world champions.

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During these first years of competition, Biles, along with the rest of the national women’s team, trained with Márta Károlyi, then the team’s coach and coordinator, who ran the educational program at the Károlyi Ranch, a center 50 kilometers north of Houston. At home, Biles’ coach, Aimee Boorman, always emphasized the importance of sports while competing; but this was not the arrival of Károlyi, a Romanian-American known for his relentless attitude and for emphasizing what one Olympic gymnast, Madison Kocian, described in the Nassar revelations movement as “a culture of fear, a culture of silence.” In Mindful Soar, Biles’ memoir published in 2016, Károlyi mentions that she doesn’t support her peers in competitions and frowns on any exercise — laughter, for example — that she wants to enjoy.

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