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Simone Biles Talks Injuries, Says 'It Feels Weird If I'm Not in Pain'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2019

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 03:  Simone Biles of the USA competes on the the Floor during day ten of the 2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships at Aspire Dome on November 3, 2018 in Doha, Qatar.  (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Francois Nel/Getty Images

Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles has revealed she's had so many injuries that it's unusual for her to be pain-free.

The 22-year-old, who won four gold medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and also has 14 World Championship golds to her name, spoke to the Daily Mail's Riath Al-Samarrai about the injuries she's suffered over the years:

"Pain is just something I live with and that is pretty odd for my age, right? It feels weird if I'm not in pain.

"I was thinking about this—I've been quite fortunate with injuries but there's been some stuff. There's been a calf I have partially torn two or three times, I broke a rib in 2016, and oh yeah, it turned out my toe was shattered in five pieces after the last Olympics without me knowing.

"That was weird. I had it for ages and used to tell people it was going to fall off. One day I had it X-rayed and they were asking how long it had been bad. I'd had it about two years. Oh, and my shoulder, I'm not even going to go into specifics but that, too.

"I guess that is it. If you are jumping up in the air all the time, sometimes gravity says no."

Biles took up gymnastics at the age of six, and she has been competing since 2011.

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She has enjoyed almost unprecedented success in the sport and is considered by many to be the greatest gymnast ever. Only the retired Svetlana Khorkina can match her World Championship haul of 20 medals, but the Russian has five fewer golds to her name.

As Al-Samarrai observed, Biles has not lost an all-around title since 2013. In the six years since, she has participated in 19 meets.

Her most recent was the Stuttgart World Cup earlier in March, her first competition of the year:

USA Gymnastics @USAGym

.@Simone_Biles wins the Stuttgart World Cup with a 58.800! https://t.co/osKmcarRZs

Biles' nearest competitor, Ana Padurariu of Canada, scored 55.132.

Here's a look at one of the American's routines on her way to the gold medal:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

A beautiful performance from @Simone_Biles on the uneven bars to keep her in first place at #Stuttgart2019! 🌟 https://t.co/FBPUU2iMwH

Biles, who celebrated her 22nd birthday on March 14, has even developed her own signature move:

Olympics @Olympics

Happy birthday @Simone_Biles ! 🎂 @gymnastics @TeamUSA #Olympics https://t.co/CWTHk4sk8g

Her success has taken a toll, though, as she reflected:

"Oh, this body. It starts when I wake up. I can tell you almost straight away if it is cold or not because my bones will shake. I joke to my friends a lot that I am going to be in a wheelchair at 30.

"My body feels like it is maybe in its 30s or 40s. Maybe older. Inside it is screaming and yelling at me."

Biles was also among more than 250 women and girls who came forward to accuse former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.

Nassar, 55, will spend life in prison after being found guilty of multiple charges of sexual assault and possession of child pornography.

Biles recently told Good Morning America she has sought therapy and is taking anxiety medication following the abuse:

Good Morning America @GMA

.@Simone_Biles on coming forward this year and speaking up in the #MeToo movement: "It's not easy but the people surrounding me are some of the best." https://t.co/xxRbvMhXhw

She has also discussed her difficulties with anxiety on social media:

Simone Biles @Simone_Biles

your anxiety ever get so bad you can’t sleep

After taking 2017 off following the Olympics, Biles returned to the gymnastics circuit last year and competed in her first international event since Rio at the World Championships in October.

She collected medals in every event—becoming the first woman to do so since 1987including four golds.

To make her achievement even more impressive, Biles entered after suffering from a kidney stone on the eve of the competition, and she was unable to take painkillers due to doping rules.

"It was pretty bad," she said. "The pain was coming in waves—I was walking around and then I'd be literally crawling on the floor because it hurt so bad."

After a trip to the hospital revealed she had a kidney stone, doctors wanted Biles to remain there overnight due to concerns the pain could get worse, but she refused.

"I was competing the next day. I think I said something like, 'OK, well, if it gets worse I'll probably call you guys or be in an ambulance so...' Anyway, I discharged myself."

Biles went on to win the all-around by a margin of 1.693. For comparison, the gap between silver medallist Mai Murakami and 12th-placed Ellie Black was 1.565.

And yet, perfectionist Biles was visibly annoyed on the podium. "It wasn't the performance I wanted," she told Al-Samarrai. "I was a bit upset to perform like that for my country."  

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