Simone Biles has opened up about her bittersweet Olympic trials experience, admitting that she felt ‘sad’ she had not given her ‘best performance’ after breaking down in tears when she suffered a rare fall from the beam.
Despite the uncharacteristic mistake, Simone, 24, sailed through the trials in the top all-around spot, finishing the second day of competition more than two points clear of her second-place teammate Suni Lee, and automatically earning herself a place on the four-person team for Tokyo.
But while Sunday’s trial ended on a high note, Simone confessed during an interview with the Today show‘s Hoda Kotb on Monday that she is ‘sad’ she didn’t give the same flawless performance that she has proven herself to be capable of time and time again.
‘I was really happy, but I was sad because everybody came out here to watch us and I didn’t give them my best performance,’ she admitted while celebrating the team’s selection alongside the other five female gymnasts who will join her at the Olympics next month.
Emotional: Gymnast Simone Biles opened up about her bittersweet Olympic trials experience on the Today show on Monday, confessing she is ‘sad she didn’t give her best performance’
Upset: The 24-year-old, who finished in first place at the trials, was seen breaking down in tears after suffering a very uncharacteristic fall from the beam
Teary: Simone is known for her incredibly cheery disposition, and her rare display of emotion surprised many viewers at home
Taking a minute: After finishing her beam routine, Simone went to have her ankle taped up by her trainer, and she was seen wiping away tears as she sat down
Sunday night not only saw Simone making several mistakes – including a wobble on bars and two out-of-bounds tumbling passes on floor – it also saw the gymnast having a rare emotional moment after her fall on the beam.
Following the end of her routine, the gymnast returned to her seat on the sidelines, where she was seen wiping away tears of frustration while her trainer taped up her ankle.
Earlier in the evening, she was overheard telling her teammates, ‘I want to die’, after making an uncharacteristic error on the uneven bars earlier in the evening, her right leg wobbling forward on a Weiler.
So rare is it for Simone to make repeated mistakes during a competition that NBC’s commentators Nastia Liukin, Tim Daggett, and Terry Gannon felt the need to reassure viewers at home ‘not to worry’, insisting that the slip-ups are not an indication that the gymnast has lost any of her skills.
Her upset also sparked a frenzy on social media, with dozens of spectators taking to Twitter to voice their surprise at seeing Simone getting so emotional.
‘Simone Biles crying is the saddest thing to watch. Ugh make it stop,’ one person wrote, while another added: ‘Simone Biles crying has me in all the feels. We love you Simone!’
‘Simone Biles crying makes me want to cry,’ a third person chimed in.
Speaking to NBC after the first night of the Olympic trials, which took place on Friday, Simone confessed that she was feeling much more emotional about the process than she did back in 2016, and she admitted that her tears had left some of her teammates somewhat surprised.
Wobble: The gymnast fell off the beam after wobbling during the second night of competition, which saw her score drop from 15.133 to 13.700
Moving on up: Despite the fall, Simone still finished the trials in first place in the all-around
Evolution: After the first night of competition on Friday, Simone confessed to NBC that she was feeling ‘a lot more emotional’ than she did in 2016
Leader: Simone is still expected to clinch the gold in the all-around in Tokyo, which will make her the first female gymnast to win consecutive Olympic titles in more than 50 years
‘I’m a lot more emotional this time around, which is so crazy,’ she said. ‘Even walking out, I was like tearing up and crying and the girls were like, “Are you OK?”
‘And I’m fine, it’s just I can’t believe the time is here. It’s been five years. I’m grateful.’
Simone is still expected to claim her second gold medal in the all-around competition in Tokyo – which will make her the first female gymnast in more than 50 years to win consecutive all-around titles – and she proved her G.O.A.T status by topping the leader board at the trials, even after suffering a few point deductions.
Speaking on the Today show, the gymnastics superstar confessed that this Olympic Games is going to be very different than Rio 2016, noting that she is ‘a little older’ this time around and therefore can’t recover as quickly as she once used to.
‘[I’m] a little bit more tired this time around. I’m a little older so I get tired quicker,’ she told Hoda – while also praising the younger members of the team for helping to motivate her in the gym.
‘We get our youth back [when we work out with younger gymnasts], they keep us going in those workouts and in the gym,’ she explained.
‘Seeing those young ones come up, it’s been motivational.’
One of those young up-and-comers that Simone referred to is 18-year-old Sunisa ‘Suni’ Lee, who finished in second place behind the four-time gold medalist and 19-time world champion.
Going for gold: Team USA selected a four-strong team of gymnasts as well as two other athletes who will compete in individual competitions
Say cheese: Simone and her teammates, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey joined Hoda Kotb on the Today show after the trials
Ready to go: All six women – including MyKayla (left), 24, and Jordan (right), 20, said that the trials have been incredibly emotional
Then there’s Jordan Chiles, 20, who trains with Simone at her gym in Houston, Texas, and received a warm congratulatory hug from her teammate after finishing a successful second night of Olympic trials on Sunday.
Team USA’s four-strong squad is rounded out by 18-year-old Grace McCallum, while 24-year-old MyKayla Skinner – who was an alternate for Rio 2016 – and Jade Carey, 21, will also travel to Tokyo, where they will represent the US as individual event specialists.
The US won back-to-back gold medals in the team all-around events in Rio and London, and claimed four consecutive wins in the individual all-around – with many predicting that Simone will clinch the country’s fifth all-around win in July.
She has already demonstrated several unique skills across multiple events that will put her far ahead of the competition in the difficulty ratings before she even executes a single move – including an incredibly risky vault that has never before been performed by a female athlete.
Simone became the first-ever woman to complete a Yurchenko double pike vault at the US Classic meet in May, making history with the tricky skill, which begins with a round-off onto the springboard, before she performs a back handspring onto the vault itself, and then two aerial flips in the pike position.
Remarkably, Simone’s coach Laurent – whom she has been training with since 2017 – told the Associated Press at the time that the gymnast hadn’t yet achieved her ‘full potential’, something that they are hoping to time perfectly for Tokyo, where she will likely perform the risky vault, as well as a myriad of other skills so complex that she is the only athlete capable of pulling them off.
The gymnast has four skills named after her – one on vault, one on balance beam, and two on floor – meaning that she was the first athlete to successfully perform them in international competition.