Simone Biles considering specialist role at Paris 2024

The four-time Olympic champion says French coaches have made her consider a third Games

By Scott Bregman

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles may not be hanging up her leotard after this year's Tokyo Olympic Games, after all.

The gymnastics superstar has hinted - including in an Instagram live with Olympic Channel last year - that Paris 2024 may be in the cards, but Wednesday at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Media Summit, Biles went a step further.

"[Coaches] Cecile and Laurent are from Paris so they've kind of guilted me into at least being a specialist and coming back," Biles said with her trademark giggle. "But the main goal is 2021, the tour, and then we'll have to see."

Cecile and Laurent Landi have coached Biles since late 2017. Both were members of the French national team, and Cecile Landi competed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

The coaching duo have helped do the unthinkable: elevate Biles' already gravity defying gymnastics to another level. That might be most noticeable this summer on the vault where the 24-year-old could debut a Yurchenko double pike, an element never attempted by a woman in competition.

"I know we'll definitely debut it before the Olympics just because we need to see, get it out there, kind of control my adrenaline once I do that before the Olympics so we can perfect it," she said Wednesday of the element that would be her fifth named element.

That could happen as early as 22 May, at the U.S. Classic, which Biles says will be her 2021 debut. After originally planning to skip the competition in favour of the now cancelled Tokyo World Cup, Biles plans to compete all four events at the Classic, U.S. Championships (3-6 June) and U.S. Olympic trials (24-27 June).

All grown up: Biles embraces role as athlete leader

But it's off the mat where Biles' post-Rio transformation has been the greatest. She lives on her own, owns her home, has two dogs and a boyfriend. But more than that, she's begun to share with the world who she is outside her endless talent.

"I'm not a little girl any more. I feel like I've really found my voice and kind of use that for good in the world and on social media platforms," she said of her evolution since her first Olympics.

Biles has used her enormous platform to speak out on issues ranging from social justice and Black Lives Matter to calls for independent investigations in to USA Gymnastics as part of the fallout from its sexual abuse scandals to supporting her teammates speaking out against violence targeted at Asian Americans. She says that taking on such a leadership role isn't something that she was comfortable with before, but now knows the impact of her words goes far beyond her tweets and Instagram posts.

"I was just a little bit nervous at what Martha [Karolyi] or other people would think," she said of the past. "But now that I kind of found my voice, I feel like not only can it benefit me, the team and the people that I'm supporting and advocating for, but it kind of helps everybody and people get to see a little bit of who you are just besides an athlete and what you stand for. And I think that's really neat."

Adding, "I'm really excited about life and what's to come and how I've changed and evolved as a person."


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