When Simone Biles earned a bronze medal on the balance beam Tuesday, many assumed that she had capped off her Olympic career with a medal win. After all, she will turn 27 ahead of the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, and elite gymnasts tend to retire on the younger side.
So, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Biles’ decorated Olympic career was over.
Not so fast. In an interview with Hoda Kotb on NBC’s “TODAY” show, Biles said that she’s not making a decision about her Olympic future just yet. She is, in fact, “leaving the door open” for a potential return to Olympic action during the Paris Olympics in three years.
“I think I have to relish and take this Olympics in, and kind of recognize what I’ve done with my career because after 2016, I didn’t get to do that,” Biles said. “Life just happens so quickly and now I have a greater appreciation for life after everything that’s happened in the last five years.”
That by no means guarantees a return, but Biles at least isn’t ruling out the possibility of one last shot at the Olympics.
MORE: Simone Biles opens up about mental health, the twisties
Biles is the greatest gymnast ever. If she wants to return to the Olympics, Team USA would almost certainly include her on the squad — if she stays healthy. She has won seven total medals at the Olympics. That’s tied for the most in United States history with Shannon Miller. She also won the all-around gymnastics final by an Olympic record 1.759 points over her teammate Aly Raisman in 2016.
Beyond that, she is the most decorated gymnast ever; she has four eponymous moves in the sport of gymnastics; the list goes on.
That said, Biles acknowledged that she struggled at times during the Olympics and found them “very overwhelming”. As she said, it felt “like the weight of the world on [her] shoulders.”
Still, she was happy with how the event ended up going, even despite her struggles with mental health and the “twisties.” But now, she has to figure out if she wants to go through that pressure cooker again on the world stage in 2024.
“It ended on a high, so I’m very grateful and thankful for that,” Biles said. “But I still feel like we go back home and there’s still a lot of things I need to work on internally and mentally to kind of feel like I had success here.”