(Reuters) – Four-times Olympic champion Simone Biles has finally broken her silence on the year-long postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and said on Wednesday that while the news left her in tears it was the right call.
The American gymnast, who is typically very active on social media, appeared on NBC’s ‘Today’ program from her home to give her first public comments since the Olympics were postponed last week because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was actually in the gym training at the time because we were allowed under 10 people… and I went to the locker in between rotations and I got a text,” said Biles.
“I didn’t really know what to feel. I just kind of sat there. I cried but ultimately it was the right decision. We need to make sure everyone in the U.S. and around the world is healthy and safe. It was hard but it’s okay.”
The 23-year-old Biles, already the most decorated gymnast in world championship history, had previously said she would retire after the Tokyo Olympics, which were originally scheduled to run from July 24-Aug. 9 this year.
Biles, who in 2018 returned to competition after a nearly two-year layoff, must now endure another grueling stretch of training if she wants to ensure she will be at her dazzling best in Tokyo and admits it will be a challenge.
“Physically I have no doubts that my coaches will get me back in shape, but mentally going another year, I think that is what’s going to take the toll on me and all of us and most of the athletes,” said Biles.
“We have to stay in shape mentally just as much as physically. That will play a big factor moving forward, listening to your body and your mind.”
With many Americans staying at home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Biles said she has maintained contact with her coaches through text messages and video calls to figure out a plan moving forward for the next year.
“Other than that, they have sent us at-home workouts. I’m also walking my dog a lot more. Just trying to stay healthy and in shape before we can return to the gym and start the training process again,” said Biles.
“(I’m) doing more bodywork, so like arms, abs, legs. The other day I did a YouTube — it was like a twerk workout … It was a twerkout, but it was like a lot of squats and conditioning.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)