Simone Biles on ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ Michelle Obama, and the Final Five’s Belize Vacation


Gymnast Simone Biles will jet out of Rio with four new gold medals and one bronze, upping her Olympic and world-championship total to 17 medals.

Bounding into the Summer Games with an estimated $2 million in endorsement deals, the 19-year-old counts Tide, Nike and Kellogg’s among her sponsors. She and the rest of the “Final Five” — Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian — will celebrate with a trip to Belize. But like her “Dancing With the Stars” prospects, that will probably have to wait until they tumble, vault and fly through this fall’s Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions.

WWD: First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted congratulations, Floyd Mayweather did too — and Zac Efron surprised you on “The Today Show.” Was one particularly meaningful?
Simone Biles: It was amazing to hear from the First Lady and then she asked us a health question. That was very cool to hear from her. The 2012 team got to go to the White House and meet them so hopefully we get to do that this year.

WWD: You train in the gym for five or six hours each day — perfecting blind landings, two-and-a-half twists and double layouts with a half-twist. What’s the scariest part about what you do?
S.B.: The scariest part of what we do? Hmmm. I’m not sure. Nothing is really scary because we’re just so well-prepared. We know exactly what we’re doing and everything turns on autopilot. Hmmm. I wouldn’t say I have a scariest part.

WWD: What’s been the highlight?
S.B.: What has stood out the most is the team final, which is always my favorite competition because we all work so hard for that one medal. It’s something that we can cherish forever together. That’s my favorite because, not only do you have to believe in yourself, you believe in your team that they can do the job as well.

WWD: What might be something people would be surprised to learn about Laurie Hernandez or Ally?
S.B.: Everything that you see with us has already probably been broadcasted. Nothing is really hidden.

WWD: Will you appear on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars?” Have you talked to anyone about that? Do you have a wish-list partner?
S.B.: Yes, I would really love to, but my schedule is very busy. I would love to do the spring season if they would let me. Everyone would love to have Derek [Hough] as a partner. But maybe if we got someone new that would be cool.

WWD: Aside from Nike, one of your sponsors, what are some of your favorite brands?
S.B.: Everything I do is in the gym so I’m always in gym clothes. I’m excited to explore lifestyle clothes for a little bit. I don’t necessarily have favorite brands.

WWD: What will you and your teammates do in Belize?
S.B.: We all do want to go because it would be something fun to do, and to just relax and not have to think about gymnastics. My mom is from there and growing up we would always go there for a week or so [each year.] I have dual citizenship. It’s amazing there, really beautiful. I’ve been going since I was six or seven. We like to go to the beach, relax, go fishing and sometimes we go to the Mayan ruins.

WWD: When you think about the different traits that are needed — dedication, commitment, strength — what do you think is the tipping point for your own success?
S.B.: For us, we have to have confidence in ourselves once we go out there because we’ve done these routines so many times, it’s just like being on autopilot. It’s just that extra little boost.

WWD: The team dedicated the win to your coach Marta Karolyi, who is retiring. How has she influenced your career?
S.B.: Marta has a way of getting 100 percent out of everyone. But not only does she get 100 percent out of you, she gets that extra 50 so you give 150 percent in everything that you do. She teaches us to be perfectionists and give just a little bit more, and have confidence in ourselves.

WWD: Given the chance, what might you have said to the world from the medal podium?
S.B.: Thank you guys for believing in my ability and supporting me in my Olympic journey.

WWD: Did anything surprise you about the Olympic Village?
S.B.: No, it’s just mini apartments that every athlete lives in. It’s just very fun. The camaraderie and meeting people from other countries is very cool. It’s very special because you’re all there for the same reason.

WWD: Is the thought of Sunday’s Closing Ceremony bittersweet?
S.B.: It’s very bittersweet. I can’t believe it’s about to be over. We’ve waited for four years. It’s crazy. It goes by fast. It just kind of flew by.

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