(Reuters) - Gymnast Simone Biles, an early favorite to emerge as the darling of the Rio Olympics, is gearing up for next month’s American Cup in her home state of Texas and keeping her mind off the ‘scary’ 2016 Games.
The 17-year-old Biles, winner of four golds at last year’s world championships in China including her second successive all-around title, said she has made a couple of upgrades to her routines for the March 7 event at the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
“I just want a really strong start to the season, and have fun,” Biles told reporters on a conference call on Thursday, adding that lots of friends and family planned to attend.
Biles is trying to keep things normal and not obsess about Rio.
”I try not to think about 2016...yet,“ the gymnast said. ”We still have this whole year to look ahead of us. We have to live in the moment and thinking about next year just scares me a little bit, so I try not to think about it.
“So if anyone brings up the Olympics, it’s definitely not me. I‘m just trying to get my confidence and make more upgrades, do what I’ve always done. So I haven’t really thought about it. Or I try not to think about it.”
For now, Biles is excited about performing in the huge expanse of AT&T Stadium, which she checked out last year as part of a promotion.
“I haven’t competed in anything close to as big as this stadium is,” Biles said about the venue that can seat 80,000 for football.
“I just thought that we were going to look like ants down there because the stadium is so big. But I guess you need a big stadium for big gymnastics.”
Biles, at 4-foot-9 (1.35 m), is small enough as it is, though the enormous screens hanging above the stadium’s surface will provide crystal clear close-ups of the competitors.
“It could be really distracting,” she said about the screen complex.
“I found myself watching the board more than the players on the field. It’s huge. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out to be, and how it’s going to look. I‘m really excited to see it.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes