Simone Biles Taking Break From Gymnastics to Figure Out 'What I Really Want to Do'

Simone Biles will be taking a break from the sport she helped to redefine.

During an interview with the Associated Press, Biles discussed her Gold Over America Tour exhibition centering around physical and mental wellness. She also talked about her future with the sport and how, after the tour concludes, she will be going on hiatus.

"I know if I walked away from the sport, I know there are other things and different avenues out there," Biles said. "For me, it's just finding out what I really want to do."

She also clarified that she is not sure whether the break will be temporary or permanent. In the meantime, she hopes to use the break to encourage mindfulness and mental well-being.

This reveal comes after a tumultuous experience at the Tokyo Olympics, where she developed "the twisties," a condition in which gymnasts are unable to synchronize their mind and body. Doing gymnastics in such a state could potentially result in serious injuries.

"It was very alarming [in the moment]," Biles told AP. "[My body] told me like, 'Hey, enough is enough, you got to go get help.'"

The battle resulted in her pulling out of team competition, although she won a bronze medal on balance beam on the final day of competition. She recently testified before Congress about the sexual abuse she and at least 70 other gymnasts faced from former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar.

The Gold Over America Tour will conclude with a live-streaming event on December 4.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Simone Biles Senate
United States gymnast Simone Biles testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill on September 15, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Simone Biles believes the post-Olympic tour she headlined proved cathartic. It also served as a touchstone for a movement within her sport and within herself. The 24-year-old gymnastics star thinks the tour, which will be made available to stream in December, expanded her horizons about what's next in her life. Saul Loeb/Pool via AP

There's a video interlude during the tour that Biles spent the fall headlining where she offers advice to the audience of predominantly young women on how to deal with adversity.

"Regroup, reset, and everything will be just fine," she says.

Biles' decision to pull out of team competition further spurred a rapidly evolving discussion about the role that proper mental health plays not just for athletes, but for everyone.

Biles went home not with a fistful of gold as she did after her breathtaking performance in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but with something more valuable: a clean slate mentally.

Having a post-Olympic tour to lead also helped. Biles never considered bailing on it. If anything, she needed the tour—which wrapped up a 32-city sprint Sunday in Boston—to help her and fellow Olympic teammates Jordan Chiles, MyKayla Skinner, Jade Carey and Grace McCallum (as well as world champions Chellsie Memmel and Morgan Hurd, among others) step out of the hyper-pressurized bubble of elite gymnastics.

"It's kind of that break we needed, in the best sort of way," Biles said.

The "GOAT" tour allowed Biles to reconnect with the energy of a crowd, energy that was palpably missing inside the spectator-free Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo.

When she initially announced the tour in fall 2019, she viewed it as an alternative to the typical post-Olympic tour run by USA Gymnastics. She wanted something "completely different."

The two-hour celebration of gymnastics, self-care and mental well-being seems aptly suited for an audience that's spent nearly two years grappling with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tour also shifted the focus around the sport back to the joy of simply doing it just to do it.

"I think we've definitely changed the outlook on gymnastics because it's had a bad rep for a couple of years now," Biles said. "So for kids and parents to come and see the show, they're like, 'You can still have fun.' This is normal."

"At least we'll have that opportunity to be able to be in their living rooms and feel like they're there with us," she said.

For now, a post-tour trip to Belize awaits. And while Biles jokes that she "would love to burrow in a hole or an island for two months," it's not an option. If anything, it's possible her "it's OK to not be OK" stand in Tokyo raised her profile more than if she would have just gone out there and dominated just as she's done for the better part of a decade.

"I'm not trying to tell you how to navigate your journey," she said, in part because she's still on her own.

Yet, she can see a day where the Gold Over America Tour becomes a post-Olympic fixture, with her name attached as a presenter if not a performer.

Chiles, who has grown close with Biles since joining World Champions Centre—the massive gym Biles' family owns in the northern Houston suburbs—called her friend "a businesswoman at heart."

"She loves to do things," Chiles said. "She loves to be on top....There's going to be a bunch of stuff that's going to be thrown her way and I can't wait to see it."

Whether any of that "stuff" means a run at the Paris Olympics in three years remains to be seen. One thing Biles has learned is that she's not tethered to gymnastics. The sport she helped redefined will not be the only thing that defines her.

Gold Over America Tour
Simone Biles recently discussed her Gold Over America Tour exhibition centering around physical and mental wellness, and also spoke about her future with the sport and how, after the tour concludes, she will be going on hiatus. Above, Biles performs during the Gold Over America Tour at Staples Center on September 25, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images