When the production crew for Religion of Sports began filming the Facebook Watch documentaries Simone vs herself, it was the fall of 2019, and Biles and Team USA took the stage at the World Cup with gold in their eyes. Biles became the most decorated gymnast in world championship history, and Religion of Sports co-founder and director of the documentary series, Gotham Chopra, told POPSUGAR that no other top athlete is at her level.
“I’ve been around Tom Brady and Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry and LeBron James and Serena Williams, who are all the best of the best. I’ve never seen anyone as physically gifted and yet work as hard as she does. It’s just another level, “said Chopra.” I guess I’m just never quite seen anyone as skilled as she is, but have also addressed the types of issues she has. “Chopra pointed to Bile’s experience in nursing homes, before she was adopted by her grandparents and traumatized by past abuse by convicted former U.S. gymnastics and Michigan physician Larry Nassar.
One thing Chopra identified that surprised him was that Biles – this record-breaking athlete with four skills named after her and victories in every all-round competition she has entered in the last eight years – still admits to fear. He gave the build to Bile’s new Yurchenko double pike vault, a skill no other woman does in gymnastics, as an example. When Chopra talked about this vault, Biles said he felt afraid to stand at the end of the runway.
“She has confidence. She wears that goat on the jersey. She knows how good she is. She does these things, and yet there is a fear in her that there is a motivator that I think is really interesting and pretty unique,” Chopra explained. “After working with many other elite athletes who are incredibly talented, there is fearlessness in them.” Admiring this openness and openness about Biles, he noted that the documentary series as a whole will delve into two major stories: her physical and mental training in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as her upbringing.
Given that the series discusses her experiences as a survivor along with mental health struggles, Chopra wanted to build a team of women that Biles would feel most comfortable in the daily film process. This team included co-executive producer Giselle Parets, senior producer Katie Walsh, film photographer Jessica Young, story producer Mo Finn and post supervisor Meghan Cirillo.
The interviews were very intimate, Chopra said, and although 24 are considered old in gymnastics, “she is still growing up.” Showing that side of Biles, he noted, is one of the strongest aspects of this documentary series. She is endowed with incredible strength – as Chopra put it, “she’s like a superhero when she goes out there” – but she is also undoubtedly human.
Simone vs herself premieres on Facebook See on June 15. New episodes air on Tuesdays.
Image source: Facebook Watch / Religion of Sports