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Champion gymnast Biles looks to August's nationals in Pittsburgh visit

| Monday, April 14, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Gymnast Simone Biles sits for an interview inside the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review offices on the North Side Monday April 14, 2014.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Gymnast Simone Biles sits for an interview inside the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review offices on the North Side Monday April 14, 2014.

Simone Biles, already a champion gymnast at 17, had to miss this past weekend's Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships because of a hurting shoulder that needed to be examined.

“It was a little disappointing, but I know it's for the best,” says Biles, of Spring, Texas, who spent April 14 in Pittsburgh and stopped at the Trib for an interview.

Simone — the 2013 U.S. all-around champion and 2013 World Championships gold medalist for all-around and floor exercise — has plenty of competitions ahead. In August, she will compete at Consol Energy Center in the national P&G Gymnastics Championships. Then, hopefully, she will go on to the World Championships in Nanning, China, in October. Then, ultimately, Simone dreams of going to Rio de Janiero for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

This upcoming competition in Pittsburgh could produce future Olympians, says Jackie Magnuson, event marketing manager. She expects gymnasts competing in Pittsburgh in August will be in Rio. Magnuson joined Simone and her dad, Ron Biles, on a tour through Pittsburgh to promote the P&G event.

Simone — a junior who has been homeschooled since beginning high school — works out for nearly seven hours a day on weekdays, with sessions at a local gym with her coach from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. It sounds shocking to average people, who may push themselves just to go for a walk several times a week. But to Simone, that's everyday life.

“I guess I'm just used to it,” Simone says about her grueling schedule. “I'm striving for my goals, so it's not such a big deal to me.”

Simone, the first gymnast in her family, discovered her passion when she was 6 and took a field trip to a gym.

“I was copying anything the girls did in back,” she says.

An official from the gym sent a letter to Simone's home, saying she had athletic potential in this area.

Simone competes in all areas of gymnastics: vault, bars, beam and floor.

“I really like floor and vault because I'm strongest in these things,” she says.

Though Simone will delay enrollment by a year after graduating from high school, she wants to go to college — either the University of California at Los Angeles, or the University of Alabama — and join the gymnastics team, and likely become a nurse when she's older.

P&G Gymnastics Championships come to Consol Energy Center for many sessions Aug. 21 to 24. Ticket packages are $165 to $530. Details: www.consolenergycenter.com

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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