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Expectations can be good and bad, but I like to focus on how previous success gives you the confidence to know that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. I went into the last world championships having won it the previous two years—so everyone was pressuring me to get the three-peat. That really stressed me out and made me nervous; I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. The stress got to me, and going into the last two events was hard. But I remembered that I had done my routines so many times, and I sat down and took a moment for myself. I went through my routines and tried not to overthink them. I just focused on my goals and didn’t worry about what others thought.

I did end up winning and am proud of what I accomplished, but I am not satisfied. I am aware that there are expectations with this being an Olympic year, but I have high expectations for myself and that is all I can control.

Something that has helped me in dealing with that pressure is remembering that gymnastics is just one part of my life, so I just embrace it and have fun. I always focus on staying consistent with my training, hitting all of my routines, contributing to Team USA as much as I possibly can and having fun with the girls. “I have to win this” is never a thought in my mind when I compete, it’s more about the goals I have set for myself and that’s what makes me happy.

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Another thing I do to try to keep high expectations from psyching me out is to block out all the pressure. My parents always told me, “No matter what you go out and do, it’s not a big deal.” They told me, “Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks, and just do what you know you can do—don’t focus on what everyone else is saying. You’re the only one who can go out and do it.”

Simone Biles is the three-time World All-Around champion and four-time United States National All-Around champion.

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