At the 2016 Olympics, generational talent Simone Biles led the U.S. women’s gymnastics team to nine medals. Biles personally won five of those medals, including four golds. This showing pointed to a bright future for the gymnast. Shortly after the 2016 games, however, Biles and most of her teammates took extended breaks from the sport. With the 2020 Olympics right around the corner, will Biles make a return?
Why Simone Biles left gymnastics for two years
Shortly after her Olympic dominance, Biles announced an indefinite break from gymnastics. She chalked it up to fatigue related to the traveling and physical demands of staying in shape. The 22-year-old used her time well. She wrote a best-selling book, performed with the Houston Texans cheerleaders, and entered Dancing With the Stars. Oh, and she always made time to clap back at critics concerning her time away from gymnastics.
Biles has since opened up further about why she and many other gymnasts walked away from the sport around the same time. She entered therapy in part due to abuse she and over 140 fellow gymnasts suffered from disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Biles’ brave social media post on the topic was a key moment in the Me Too movement.
A record-breaking performance puts Biles back on the map
After two years away from the competitive spotlight, Biles returned with a major splash. In April 2018, USA Gymnastics posted about her conditioning. An extended run as a celebrity and author had seemingly no impact on her physical talent. Biles swept five national competitions. In the process, she became the first gymnast since 1994 to top every event at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
Her return was met with great fanfare in sports media. But the big moment came in July when Biles became the first woman to ever land a triple-double during her live floor routine. This event instantly became the biggest sports news story of the day. Doubts over Biles’ progression quickly dissipated. Clearly, she’s not simply in shape for the 2020 Olympics; she’s better than ever before.
Will Biles’ teammates return for the 2020 Olympics?
Biles turned heads with her five-medal performance. The remaining four medals racked up by her talented teammates cemented the 2016 women’s gymnastics team as among the best ever. So, will Biles return for 2020 with her old squad?
Gabby Douglas is up in the air. She has yet to return to full conditioning, although she hasn’t ruled out a 2020 run. Currently, she focuses on agility training with her dog. Olympics appearances in both 2012 and 2016 may account for her tentativeness concerning a third attempt.
Aly Raisman, also in the 2012 Olympics, spends much of her time doing activism on behalf of sexual abuse victims. She also suffered abuse from Nassar. Now she puts her efforts behind helping his other victims recover. Investigations into misconduct by USA Olympics are ongoing.
Laurie Hernandez intends to return to gymnastics and rejoin the U.S. women’s team for 2020. While her 2019 has largely involved conditioning privately rather than competing, she plans to kick into high gear for at least one more Olympics.
Madison Kocian continues to compete at the collegiate level. She has not returned to elite gymnastics. Due to a spate of injuries, she has no plans to enter the 2020 Olympics at this time.
The 2020 Olympics limit gymnastics squads to four members total, rather than the five seen in 2016. Whatever the 2020 team looks like, it will be largely unfamiliar outside of the upcoming must-watch appearance of Biles.