“I’ve already done quite a lot, but I’m still trying to reach new heights and see what I’m capable of.”
She’s at the top of her game, conquering new heights on the go and there’s no stopping her! Twenty-five World Championship medals and standing tall as the world’s most decorated gymnast, at just 24, Simone Biles has racked up impressive wins in an enviable career and yes, she’s not done raising the bar!
Biles is Glamour Magazine’s June issue cover star and she’s effortlessly stunning in photos shot by Kennedi Carter, a Black photographer.
In a chat with the mag, the athlete talks living through the pandemic, depression, postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, and much more.
Quarantine for most people was defined with lots of anxiety, for Biles, uncertainty hit hard – grappling with the fact that her chance to finish the career she’d sacrificed her entire life for might be stolen by the pandemic was not easy.
Then it became official: In late March, Texas went under total lockdown. No more training. For seven weeks Biles sat idle, weighing how to commit herself physically and mentally to the uncertainty. It took a toll. “I got to process all the emotions,” she says. “I got to go through being angry, sad, upset, happy, annoyed. I got to go through all of it by myself, without anybody telling me what to feel.”
She became depressed. She thought of quitting. But that didn’t last long. “I wanted to give up,” Biles says. “But it would have been dumb because I’ve worked way too hard.”
The gymnast has already achieved an unmatched level of excellence, so choosing to put herself through another year was to prove to no one but herself that she could, that at 24 she was better than ever, and that even after everything she’s been through, she still loves her sport. “I know I’m doing it for me,” she says. “I do it because I still have such a passion for it.”
But, some good came out of it. After years of laser focus, pushing herself beyond limits to grab the World’s Greatest title, Biles also spent the last year finding more about self, life had previously been all about the work.
“Before I would only focus on the gym,” she says. “But me being happy outside the gym is just as important as me being happy and doing well in the gym. Now it’s like everything’s coming together.”
“I feel like everybody was painting, or knitting, or doing something cool in quarantine, so I was like, ‘I’m going to learn how to do my makeup, my hair, and my nails.’ I almost ruined my nails, so that is no longer permitted. I’ve definitely gotten better at doing my hair, but clearly I’m not gifted in that department,” she says with a laugh. “I’m just really trying to find who I am.”
“Drinking a margarita at a Mexican restaurant,” she says without hesitation. “That’s me.”
“I’ve learned it’s okay to ask for help if you need it,” she says.
Biles opened up on being resistant to the idea of therapy at first. “One of the very first sessions, I didn’t talk at all,” she says. “I just wouldn’t say anything. I was like, ‘I’m not crazy. I don’t need to be here.’” But therapy, her therapist explained, wasn’t for people who are “crazy”; it was just an outlet for her to be able to talk about anything going on in her life—gymnastics or otherwise. “I thought I could figure it out on my own, but that’s sometimes not the case. And that’s not something you should feel guilty or ashamed of,” Biles says. “Once I got over that fact, I actually enjoyed it and looked forward to going to therapy. It’s a safe space.”
Reflecting on her career journey she says: “I’m not a little girl anymore. It’s definitely up to me. Nobody’s forcing me,” she says. “Whenever you’re younger, you feel like it’s a job, and you have to be pushed. But now it’s like, This is what I want to do, so that’s why I’m here.”