Mental Game: Simone Biles and Other Elite Athletes Face the Pandemic

Simone Biles is alone, thinking. She has been for weeks. “You have those doubts,” says the world’s most decorated gymnast. “Can my body do another year? Can I do another year?” Hunkered down in her home in Houston, she cried when she heard the 2020 Olympics were postponed. Her career was supposed to end in three months, in Tokyo. Now it’ll be another 15, if she decides to compete in 2021. She’ll be 24 then, older than any woman who’s won all-around Olympic gold since 1960.

Biles is used to a regimented life, spending seven or eight hours in the gym every day. Now, aside from picking up curbside Sunday-night dinners from her mom and video-chatting with teammates two or three times a week, her greatest sense of routine comes from walking her French bulldog, Lilo, and going grocery shopping.

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