Much has changed, though, within the United States national team. At 22, Biles is one of its oldest members, the designated leader of the team and an important example to the younger gymnasts.
She is also the only remaining member of the 2016 Olympic team and the only active elite gymnast who has publicly identified herself as a survivor of the sexual abuse perpetrated by Lawrence G. Nassar, the national team’s former doctor.
While others in the sport, particularly her 2016 Olympic teammate Aly Raisman, spoke out about the failure of U.S.A. Gymnastics to protect its young athletes, Biles remained relatively quiet. Recently, though, her stance has shifted. Biles has used her Twitter account to express frustration with the sport’s national governing body, and she became emotional while talking on Wednesday about the aftermath of the scandal.
“I do want to be a voice,” Biles said, “but it takes time.”
Although she is still figuring out how and when to best use her voice, Biles has always led by example. All eyes were on her during the training session: Her fellow athletes and coaches stopped their workouts to watch her, even applauding after she completed a skill.
Biles is also taking time to help the next generation. She was out on the floor 30 minutes before her training period, talking with the junior gymnasts, athletes under the age of 16, as they practiced.
“It’s super helpful,” said Karis German, 15, who trains at Biles’s gym. “She gives us tips on how to make things.”
At this stage, it has become Biles’s goal to build a community for herself and the other gymnasts. Few people on the outside, she said, can understand what they are going through, so supporting one another is important.