Simone Biles: “I have a lot of expectations for myself and to uphold my name"

The four-time Olympic champion is set for history in Stuttgart.

By Scott Bregman

There aren’t many firsts left for Simone Biles in gymnastics.

But on Tuesday in Stuttgart, she had one. In her four previous appearances at the World Championships and the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, Biles has never before been the sole subject of a press conference before the first scores have even been given out.

“I have a lot of expectations for myself and to uphold my name,” Biles said as the difference between her first World Championships and the ones taking place this week in Stuttgart, Germany.

Fourteen times a World champion, Biles spent more than 20 minutes answering questions on a wide range of topics from new elements to handling outside pressures.

Stamping her name in the 'Code of Points,' again

The four-time Olympic champion landed in Germany on Saturday, but showed no signs of jet lag Sunday during training at the auxiliary halls.

There, she performed the two elements which could bear her name by the end of the fortnight in Germany: the triple-twisting double back on floor and the double-double dismount off the balance beam. Biles plans to compete the triple-double every time out in Stuttgart, but will be more strategic with the new balance beam dismount.

"I feel really confident with the skills that I'm doing, and I'm actually really excited to do them," Biles said. "And, hopefully get them named after me at this competition.

In order to do that, she will need to perform them successfully at least once in competition. She already has two elements named after her: a Yurchenko half on, front double full off on vault and a double layout with a half twist on floor.

Biles admitted to the Olympic Channel Podcast in August that the skills at first seemed 'crazy' to her.

"So, actually I had to be... not be forced," she said today, before motioning to coach Laurent Landi, "But he had to help me a lot getting me to do them. I never thought I’d actually be able to compete them one day.

"Laurent and Cecile helped me a lot with having me believe in myself so I could compete them.”

Adding with her signature laugh: "I give him gray hair."

This may nearly be the program she will present in Tokyo, saying that she may perform her eponymous vault which she hasn't done since missing it at last year's World Championships in the all-around final.

"Other than that, I think that's it," Biles said. "I think I'm out."

'I'm still a human being before I'm Simone Biles the superstar'

With Olympic stars Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt having moved away from their respective sports, Biles is likely to be the biggest name at next summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

That's not how the 22-year-old American sees it though.

"I just go out there, compete, try to represent 'Simone' not 'Simone Biles' whenever I go out there," she said, "because at the end of the day I'm still a human being before I'm Simone Biles the superstar."

She'll likely be both - here and in Tokyo.

Biles is on the precipice of history. When the medal rounds get underway next week with the women’s team final on 8 October, the U.S. women will be heavy favourites to win their fifth world team title in a row. But a medal of any colour will earn her the 21st medal of her career and make her the most decorated female gymnast at the World Championships. She is currently tied with Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina at 20.

In Tokyo, if she's able to produce another five-medal performance as she did in Rio, she will end any debate - if there is any - that she is the greatest female gymnast in history.

"I just try not to pay attention to [others' expectations] and go out there and do what I'm training to do."

"It's hard, but I manage."


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