In the traditions of Dominique Dawes and Gabby Douglas, another black girl is ruling women’s gymnastics. Simone Biles could be the best gymnasts of all time, according to both her peers and her stack of medals from the US National Championships this weekend—her fourth straight all-around win, a feat no one has achieved in 42 years.
Nineteen-year-old Biles has taken the gymnastic world by storm and is the favorite to dominate at the Olympics in Rio this summer. What is amazing about Biles is her ability to reach amazing heights in her floor routines. She glides above the competition and is able to pull off more daring stunts, like a double layout with a half twist (in the video below). This weekend, Biles achieved an incredible 9.9 on the Amanar vault, a near perfect score that is unheard of from typically hypercritical judges. Biles scored 4 points higher than the second place winner, 2 time Olympic gold medalist, Aly Raisman. Those four points are a landslide in gymnastics.
Biles trains hard—she is in the gym for 32 hours a week, with two training sessions on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Her near technical perfection is not the only thing that the world has noticed about Biles: her winning personality and dazzling smile has charmed audiences everywhere. Biles’s joy is apparent for all to see.
The girl who everyone is calling the Michael Jordan of gymnastics (in addition to her excellence, Biles sticks her tongue out in her routines) has a stirring personal story. Her mother struggled with a drug and alcohol addiction and Biles was in placed in foster care as a child. Luckily, her grandfather and his wife adopted her in 2003, and they enrolled her in gym classes Bannon’s Gymnastix in Houston when she was just six years old. Since then, her natural athleticism and hard work ethic has led her to 14 world medals, the most in United States history.
Biles has won the respect and admiration of her peers, both past and present. Shawn Johnson East, 2008 Olympic gold medalist describes her has the “greatest of all time,” as does Mary Lou Retton the 1984 gold medalist. Nastia Lukin, another 2008 gold medalist and balance beam champion, called Biles’ routine on the beam the “best routine ever.”
In July, Biles will be competing to join the US Women’s gymnastics team, and at this point, the US women’s coach Martha Karolyi says that there are “no questions” about Biles’ place on the team. With Biles competing, this summer’s Olympic games will certainly be one to watch.
Photo Creds: Flickr, Kirsty Joan Sinclair