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Simone Biles: in her own words

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Simone Biles, nominee for Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year 2017, speaks to Laureus about the year she's had and her career to date.
 
Six months on, looking back to Rio, what are your thoughts?
Simone Biles: It was an amazing experience you dream about as a little girl.  So once you're there, everything happens so fast, and it's kind of a blur looking back on it.  But I know I had the best time of my life with some of my best friends.
Was there one particular moment that you will remember forever?
I think I'll always remember the team finals and all around finals.
What was so special?  Was it being with the rest of your team?
Yes, and we knew that once we had done that, we broke history.  So it does hold a special place in our hearts and we'll always be connected through that specific moment.
Before you went to Rio, did you think you could win four Gold Medals? 
I knew I had the potential if I hit all my sets.  But then again, you never know, because it's a stage you've never been on.  Nerves get to you sometimes and other things like that.  But training had been going really well.  But once I walked into a competition, I don't think about the medals and the outcome.  I just try to do what I do in training.
Has your life changed since Rio?
Yes, my life has changed quite a bit.  Everywhere I go, people recognise me.  I'm still super busy, just like after Rio.  But I guess it's good to stay busy.
You visited the White House.  What kind of experience was that?      
As a little girl or as a little kid, you always want to become President one day and go visit the White House. But to actually have the opportunity ?? it was amazing to meet Mr. Obama and Mrs. Obama and how we interacted.  And I got to be on stage with them for one of the speeches. They told us what a wonderful job we did in Rio and how inspiring it was to the nation.
What does being nominated for the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award mean to you?
It means a lot for me to be picked from the best of the best, because it's not a normal selection. It is everyone that has achieved and accomplished so much in their sport and has made a huge impact, so it is an honour.
Laureus: Nominations are voted for by the world's media so it's a sign that you've made a massive impact around the world. Is that a good feeling?
Yes, it is a good feeling, because one day you do hope to be the best in your sport, because that's what you train for. So to be voted by them, it makes you feel like you've made your mark in your sport.
Laureus Awards are voted for by great athletes like Nadia Comaneci, Alexey Nemov, Li Xiaopeng, who are gymnasts that are Academy Members. Does the fact that these guys are casting their votes make it more prestigious?
Yes, I think so, because they have made a huge impact into the boundaries in their sports that no one thought they would ever achieve.  So for them to do that and to be voting for us, it does mean a lot, because you feel like you've made a huge impact, along with them.
And they know about the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.  Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Simone Biles: Yes, we pretty much work day in and day out with most of us only having Sundays off, training year round.  So it does take a mental and physical toll on your body.  But it's about pushing those to the max just so you can be the best, because it is hard, what we do.  But once we focus on our goals and go after them, that's all that really matters.
What can you say about Nadia Comaneci and her pioneering role as a gymnast?
Yes, she is a legend for our sport, and I think many, many kids look up to her.  Although we weren't born to see her compete, we watched it since we were born and we look up to her a lot because of the impact she made on our sport.  So we hope to one day become just like her.
Who was your role model? 
My role models were a little bit older, because that's when I started recognising what I could do with my gymnastics.  But it was like Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, and then the whole 2012 team.
You came from a broken home and were brought up by your grandparents. Did this make you even more determined to succeed?
I think everyone makes the story a little bit more sad than it is.  So to me, it was just falling in love with the sport, having a passion, and seeing how far I could take it with myself. So I guess in the outcome, it didn't have any effect of where I came from.  It was just where I was going and what I wanted to do with the talent I was given.
You suffer from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), how did that affect your gymnastic career?
In the beginning, it didn't affect it too much, because all kids are a little bit hyper and you want the extra energy. But as I got older and I had to really, really focus whenever it came down to competition, it affected me just a little bit because I would get distracted.  And for our sport, you need to be concentrated 100 per cent when you're on the equipment.  So it was a little bit harder, but we figured it out.
There have been stories about the medication you take for ADHD, what are your comments on that?
I feel like if you do need something, then you just need something.  So I just have to have an extra form to help me; that I can take it, because I do have ADHD.  Other than that, it's for me to worry about and not other people.
What are your career goals after Rio?  Do you have a total number of gold medals you would like to win?
Not necessarily. I haven't thought about it too much, because I am taking a little bit of a break. One of the goals I have in my mind is competing in Tokyo in 2020.
You will definitely be competing in Tokyo then?
I hope to, but you need to be mentally and physically fit.
When you come back to competition, are there things that you will work on to become even better, or do you feel it's just a question of maintaining the standard?
I think it's just maintaining the standard, because I feel like every four years, they do make gymnastics a little bit harder by changing the rule book.  So it is a little bit different.  But I don't know how I'll approach it until I start to get back in it. It's a little far to think about.
You had to fight through adversity, what is your message to other young kids who come from difficult backgrounds?
I would remind them, it doesn't matter where you come from.  It's where you want to go.
Laureus Sport for Good has improved the lives of lots of young people around the world.  How important do you feel social commitment is for you?
I think going into a sport that we do, you need to include that.
Your coach, Aimee Boorman has moved from Houston to Florida. Will you take on a different coach or will you move?
I think that's a question to decide whenever I get there, but I think I'll stay home?based in Houston, so that would probably require another coach.
When did you create that last bounce that ends your solo routines? 
I created the end move in my floor routine when I was young and got one of my first routines in either level, eight.  So I was about ten years old, not even, and that's how that came about.
Is there one aspect where you think you need to improve?
I think it's staying consistent. That's the most important, and being mentally ready, just as physical.  Because if you're in the physical shape, it goes a long way, but you need to be mentally up to par. I guess it's still just focus, and at this Olympics, I feel like inside I did everything right, so if I can repeat that, it could be successful again. But you never know, because of the training behind it, you'd have to put in the work.
It’s an impressive list of women Olympians who have been nominated for the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award this year.  What would it mean if you were to win this year?    
Oh, gosh. It would be a huge impact on our sport I think, having a gymnast win it, and being voted by the best of the best, it does feel like you will make your mark.  So I don't know, I think I would be shocked myself if I won it.