Teammates treasure superstar Biles's 'human qualities'

US gymnast Joscelyn Roberson speaks to reporters during USA gymnastics media days in Katy, Texas (Mark Felix)
US gymnast Joscelyn Roberson speaks to reporters during USA gymnastics media days in Katy, Texas (Mark Felix)

Simone Biles's superhuman skills have made her a gymnastics superstar, but as the Paris Games beckon it is her down-to-earth qualities that teammates treasure.

After a two-year hiatus, Biles is poised to vault into Paris as potentially the biggest headline act of the 2024 Olympics.

The 26-year-old is balancing the weight of expectations -- not to mention the demands of a two-career marriage to Green Bay Packers player Jonathan Owens -- as she trains alongside teenage teammates with Olympic dreams of their own.

"Yeah, I definitely feel like the age gap doesn't really necessarily matter in the gym," 17-year-old Joscelyn Roberson, who trains with Biles at World Champions Centre (WCC) in Spring, Texas, and was part of the United States' gold medal team at last October's World Championships, where her campaign was cut short by injury.

"I feel like we're all trying to strive for the same goals and we're all doing the same thing.

"So our struggles are similar. Getting to know Simone has honestly been so fun."

Roberson's link with Biles stretches back to before their first meeting, when Biles spotted a video showing a then-9-year-old Roberson performing a standing back flip with a twist and shared it on social media, saying "im in awe".

"It just made me feel really special," Roberson said Sunday as USA Gymnastics hosted a media opportunity for women's team members gearing up for the Olympic season.

"I think I admire her human qualities more than her as a gymnast," added Zoe Miller, another WCC gymnast who won team and uneven bars gold at the Pan American Games.

"Just because I know her on a way deeper level than most people do. She's very humble and she's very caring and is always looking out for me."

- Silly group -

Pan Am Games team champion Tiana Sumanasekera said Miller and Biles can be counted on to keep things light, even when training gets tough.

"We're a very silly group of girls," Sumanasekera, 16, said. "We love to crack jokes with each other and Simone and Zoe are the funniest duo ever.

"Whenever we are having a hard day or something, they're always there to crack a joke and make us laugh even if we're crying."

While Biles's younger clubmates are dreaming of a first Olympic campaign, Jordan Chiles was alongside Biles at the 2020 Tokyo Games, where the US superstar, suffering from the debilitating spatial awareness condition known as "the twisties," pulled out of most of her events.

Chiles said she's "proud" to see Biles back in gymnastics, a sport she has redefined in the way that Michael Jordan did basketball and Serena Williams did tennis.

"Being able to see her come back from Tokyo and seeing her be what she wants to be -- this girl is amazing, outstanding," said Chiles who helped the US to team silver in Tokyo.

"Seeing her do this again for her third time, I think is something that I wish I could do. I wish I could be in that position where it's just like, you know what, this is what I want to do and I'm just going to go for it."