In a new cover profile for WSJ. Magazine, Simone Biles reflects on her rise to stardom within gymnastics and fears that her best years were behind her

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It might be hard to imagine an athletic powerhouse like Simone Biles with insecurities surrounding ability in her sport, but she's only human.

In a new cover story for WSJ. Magazine's July digital issue, the 24-year-old gymnast — who's a favorite at this year's fast-approaching Summer Olympics in Tokyo — said she "thought [she'd] hit the peak of [her] career" in 2016, after nabbing four gold medals and one bronze at the Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"I was like, 'How can I get any better than that?' " said Biles, who will compete as part of Team USA once more this year.

She added of her time after Rio, "And so I was really nervous walking into the gym."

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Simone Biles WSJ Magazine
Simone Biles for WSJ. Magazine
| Credit: Rahim Fortune for WSJ. Magazine
Simone Biles competes on the beam during the 2021 GK U.S. Classic gymnastics competition at the Indiana Convention Center on May 22, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana
Simone Biles
| Credit: Emilee Chinn/Getty
Simone Biles WSJ Magazine
Simone Biles for WSJ. Magazine
| Credit: Rahim Fortune for WSJ. Magazine

But Biles persisted, choosing new coaches and diving headfirst into a fresh phase of her sport knowing that if she looked back, she'd regret not continuing her athletic career.

"Now I can enjoy my gymnastics. It's really up to me," she told WSJ. Magazine. "And that probably also comes along with how many titles I've won and everything I've established."

For Biles, it's all about making her own rules and setting her own milestone markers, knowing what she is able to achieve awards-wise and focusing more on personal satisfaction.

"It's like, okay, well, the facts are on the paper. I feel like now I don't have to prove anything to anybody," she explained. "I'm trying to level up."

Simone Biles WSJ Magazine
Simone Biles covers WSJ. Magazine
| Credit: Rahim Fortune for WSJ. Magazine

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That's not to say memories of her quick rise to gymnastics superstardom are far from her mind, even as she continues to rack up medals.

"I wouldn't say I thought '13 was a fluke," Biles recalled. "But I was like, 'Oh, whatever, I won; next year somebody else will be the winner.' "

"And then '14 happened and I won, and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh; what is happening?' " Biles continued in the interview. "And then '15 happened, and I was like, 'Who am I? This could be really good. I could make the Olympic team!' "

As for her future, "I feel like for all these years I've kind of let gymnastics do the talking, and I've kind of stamped my position there," she said. "So at the end of the day, I can say I've done it all, and more."

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.