Simone Biles, eternal glory or thirst for revenge?

For us, mere mortals, it is impossible to understand why our idols are insatiable triumph-seekers. Simple. Only they know what it feels like.

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Gymnastics: 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships
Gymnastics: 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships

A few years ago, on the eve of the playoff finals, a journalist asked a veteran and successful coach if he didn’t prefer to face such a challenge with young people hungry for glory rather than with veteran champions who were probably gentrified.

Neither the sport nor the name of the coach matters, but rather his answer: “Always give me the veteran champion. These people, in general, not only do they not become gentrified, but they raise their potential, simply because they already know the glory. They know what it feels like and they want to be in that situation again.”

Perhaps this sentence hides much of the validity of the great sports phenomenons of all time.

What motivates Rafael Nadal to want to win Roland Garros again after having achieved it not once or twice but fourteen times?

What else but the desire to continue to feel the glory up close, made Michael Phelps, after having far surpassed the record for Olympic titles, become the sprinter he never was to join the 4×100 freestyle champion relay in Rio swimming as fast as he had never done before?

Gymnastics: 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships
Gymnastics: 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships

Last Thursday, Simone Biles announced her willingness to be present at Paris 2024. Her statements toured the world and fans of gymnastics, and of sports in general, celebrated the North America’s intention to go for a new Olympic Game.

Some, still with the bitter taste left by her retirement in Tokyo, despite the importance in her message for mental health, also celebrated her return to competition after two years in retirement.

It was last August 5th when Biles was established as the best athlete in the US Classic. Her time in the competition seemed to show that neither time nor talent had passed.

Although the road to Paris is long and the United States has several elite gymnasts in its selection process, it seems that the intention of the multiple world and Olympic champion is more a reality than a dream.

Gymnastics: 2023 Core Hydration Classic
Gymnastics: 2023 Core Hydration Classic

“Right now I would say that’s the path I would like to follow (compete in Paris 2024),” Biles said for NBC. Laughing, she answered the question of whether they should bet five dollars for her participation or her absence, with a “I wouldn’t mind if you put them in yes.”

After her participation in the US Classic, and faced with the question of Paris 2024, she asked for time and assured that beyond her desire, she still doesn’t feel quite ready. “I have to take care of myself a little more, listen to my body a little more compared to what I did before. Now I feel like I still doubt myself a little bit, but I’m still in therapy to make sure everything is going well,” she acknowledged.

She also remarked that trust in her coach, teammates and above all in herself helped a lot in her process. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see her in action again. Whether she will participate in the World Championships in Antwerp at the end of the month remains to be determined. Despite having achieved the classification in the US Classic, for now, she is not registered. If present, it will be a key event on the path that she seeks to cover in the face of the next Olympic event.

Simone Biles’ story is likely to have a key twist with respect to the two examples selected at the beginning of this text. And it was that historic mishap in Tokyo because of which she went from being the favorite to getting on the podium no less than six times - and winning no less than five gold medals - to, barely, achieving the bronze medal in beam. Not only do we mortals have no way of imagining what goes through the minds of the GOATS when it comes to seeking a new challenge, much less could we understand how they feel when faced with the possibility of taking revenge.