“I’m Hurting”: Simone Biles Shares Age Barrier Affecting Gymnastics Ahead of Paris Olympics“I’m Hurting”: Simone Biles Shares Age Barrier Affecting Gymnastics Ahead of Paris Olympics

July 6, 2024

“I’m Hurting”: Simone Biles Shares Age Barrier Affecting Gymnastics Ahead of Paris Olympics“I’m Hurting”: Simone Biles Shares Age Barrier Affecting Gymnastics Ahead of Paris Olympics

She was in her final year of teenage, and she was going to her first Olympics. Eight years later, in her third Olympic appearance, Simone Biles is the oldest female American gymnast to compete at the Olympics in 72 years. But it seems that her gymnastic age stands still. Instead of signs of wear and tear, her skills have become even more polished. Proof?

At 26, considered a ripe age for a gymnast, she added one more move named after her at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships 2023. That too, the dreaded Yurchenko Double Pike, which no woman gymnast has ever performed before her. Despite that, the 23x world gold medalist can not really get away with the age factor.

Just after securing her spot in Paris, Biles discussed her feelings about being an older competitor in the sport. In a conversation with Today, she said, “I definitely feel 27 after meets like this when I wake up in the morning and, oh gosh, I’m hurting.” This quote stresses the physical difficulties that come with becoming older, particularly in a physically demanding activity like gymnastics. So she does not have any problem with the moniker she earned at her

In the interview, she declared that she proudly carries her “grandma” title. “Yes, in the gym. But I know outside of the gym I’m like young, hip and fresh. So that’s OK,” she said in the interview. Interestingly, amid all the age-related discussion, Simone herself brought forward her hilarious exchange with Aly Raisman during the Rio Olympics. On that occasion, Simone was on the younger side of the age parameter.

In a press conference after the trials, Simone Biles apologized to Raisman for calling her “grandma” in 2016! This playful conversation took place at the U.S. Gymnastics Trials for the Summer Olympics in 2024. After considering her earlier remarks, Biles joked, “I definitely have to apologize to Aly for calling her grandma. Because I feel like I’m way older now than me calling her grandma when we were younger.” But Simone has set herself up factoring in the increased age.

One important part of that is surely prioritizing her mental health to handle the pressure at the grandest stage once again. Another is, giving the body ample time to heal. She said, “I definitely have to take care of recovery mentally and physically. After classics, I swore I couldn’t walk. I was like hobbling to the plane.” But that does not deter her from going through equally rigorous training like that of the younger gymnasts.

She gets up at the break of dawn, and trains six out of seven days, often upside down, which comes down to roughly 35 hours a week. But the Tokyo debacle really took away this vigor from her, maybe because of the age factor playing in the back of her mind. That put her into more depression. Here her coaches Cecile and Laurent Landi came in big time.

“The body gets old, so when I talked about coming back [for the Paris Olympics], about training, Cécile and Laurent told me, ‘Let’s just start quietly and see if you still have the passion [for gymnastics],”Simone had told to lemonde in February. The important decision to get married to Jonathan Owens also did wonders in that recovery journey as she found much-needed mental peace. Outcome? Her dazzling comeback at the 2023 Core Hydration Classic with an all-around score of 59.500. That journey has now reached at the Parisian arena and Simone is resolute about that.

After the trials, Simone was heard saying, “This is definitely our redemption tour. I feel like we all have more to give, and our Tokyo performances weren’t the best. We weren’t under the best circumstances either. But, I feel like we have a lot of weight on our shoulders to go out there and prove that we’re better athletes, we’re more mature, we’re smarter, we’re more consistent.” What did she mean by that?

Simple, she wants that gold which she missed in the last Olympics. It was that loss for which at least a portion of enthusiasts branded her a loser holding her responsible for the downfall of the USA. And Simone thinks with three mature Olympian gymnasts like herself, Jade Carey, and Jordan Chiles, and fresh blood like Hezley Rivera, the team looks sharper and more confident. In a post-event interview, Simone was asked what made her return.

The first thing she mentioned was being in a good mental spot and talking to her therapist. But she was straight-faced about one thing. “I knew I wasn’t done after the performances in Tokyo. So just getting back in the gym and working hard and just trusting the process with Cecil and Laurent, I knew I’d be back,” Simone asserted. Out of her own experience at the Olympics, she knows the magnitude of pressure a gymnast goes through on such a stage. So everybody found her thoroughly cheering up her teammates, being a ‘mentor and a leader.’