Simone Biles is back in the gym. What that means remains to be seen.
The Olympic champion confirmed Saturday that she returned to the gym two weeks ago after taking the last year off. But she’s hesitant to call it a comeback just yet — in large part because she knows what a frenzy it will cause.
“That’s what’s the hardest point of all is everyone already has set expectations for me for my comeback before I’ve come out and said it,” Biles said before she and the rest of the Final Five were inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
“I’m slowly getting my body right and see how I feel,” she said. “Testing the waters basically.”
Biles had a run of dominance unlike anything the gymnastics world has ever seen, culminating in four gold medals at last summer’s Rio Olympics. She went three years without being beaten, and was the first woman to win three consecutive all-around titles at the world championships.
Other gymnasts have made successful comebacks after layoffs, including fellow Final Fivers Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, and Biles’ ability to master even the most difficult of tricks like it was child’s play is legendary.
But a year off is still a year off.
“I love Simone’s honesty,” Raisman said. “I think a lot of people sometimes think you take a year off and you can just go back and do a floor routine just like that. I think it took me at least two full years to do a full floor routine since I stepped in the gym. I spent like six months just conditioning.”
Asked about her workout regimen during her break, Biles said she recently took her dogs for a walk. She’s done more than that, of course. She competed on Dancing With the Stars, and the training for that is grueling.
Biles said she’s starting with conditioning and has tried a few “basic” tricks. One of the biggest challenges is that she’s not sure how to plot out her timetable. Aimee Boorman, who had coached Biles her entire career, moved to Florida after the Rio Olympics, so there’s no one at her gym who is familiar with her or how she trains.
“It’s kind of hard for even the coaches to look at me and gauge what’s happening because they weren’t there before,” Biles said. “So we’re just kind of taking it day by day.”
Asked if she was happy being back in the gym, a look of horror crossed Biles’ face.
“No,” she said, grimacing. “Gosh no.”
But she does miss competing.
Biles and Laurie Hernandez watched the women’s prelims Friday night at the P&G Championships and said it was “weird” to not be on the floor.
“I love competing,” she said “This one, I couldn’t even imagine being on the floor with them yesterday. But then sooner or later, yeah, I miss it.”
By Nancy Armour
This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
***Editor’s note: Simone Biles was named the United States Sports Academy’s 2016 Female Athlete of the Year.***