Simone Biles took the world by storm during the Summer Olympics. The 4-foot-9 powerhouse entered the competition as a three-time all-around world champion and had the potential to take home five gold medals. Her collection of World Championship and Olympic medals — three bronze, two silver and 14 gold— gives her the title of most decorated gymnast of all time. Oh, and did I mention that she’s only 19 years old and has already been called the greatest of all time?
She left Rio with four gold medals, setting a new American women’s gymnastics record for most gold medals won in a single Olympics. Queen B(iles) still managed to take home the bronze in the balance beam final after nearly falling off and receiving a full point deduction for grabbing the beam. Almost any other gymnast would have seen their chances of medaling go out the window with a mistake of that magnitude, but Biles’s start values were so high compared to other competitors that she still medaled.
Biles has rewritten the sport of gymnastics, doing tricks that would previously have been thought of as impossible. She created a new skill, the Biles, which she performs in the second tumbling pass of her floor routine. The Biles is a double layout with a half twist. The half twist adds a blind landing to the skill which makes it harder for the athlete to stick it.
The difficulty and precision at which Biles executes her routines is nearly flawless. She redefines what it means to “stick it” and flies through the air as if she is defying gravity. When other gymnasts would already be on their descent back to the floor, Biles is still ascending, all while twisting and turning faster than I can even wrap my head around.
But what’s really important about Biles is that even when she finishes her routine and my jaw has dropped, she still critiques herself. She is constantly pushing herself to be better when the world believes that she is already perfect.
The alteration in gymnastics scoring ten years ago opened the door for gymnasts like Biles. The elimination of the perfect 10 encouraged gymnasts to reach for new levels. Now, each routine is given a start value based on difficulty. The higher the difficulty, the higher the possible score. Gymnasts now have to push the limits instead of focusing on perfecting smaller, easier tricks.
Aside from being the greatest gymnast, Biles shows wisdom beyond her years in the way she handles adversity. During the games, Biles received negative comments from NBC anchor Al Trautwig in regards to her family dynamics. Biles and her sister Adria were adopted by their grandparents in the early 2000s as their biological mother dealt with substance abuse. The sisters have known them as mom and dad ever since. Trautwig critiqued the label.
“They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents,” said Trautwig on Twitter.
Biles response did not show anger, but instead showed poise and eloquence.
“I personally don’t have a comment. My parents are my parents and that’s it,” said Biles.
More recently, Russian hackers posted medical records of US Olympic athletes online. Biles was among one of the targeted. Her records showed that she had tested positive for Ritalin, a common medicine for treating ADHD. Biles was quick to respond to this accusation.
“I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid. Please know, I believe in clean sport, have always followed the rules, and will continue to do so as fair play is critical to sport and is very important to me,” said Biles to her followers on Twitter.
The president of USA Gymnastics has affirmed this claim and reported that Biles had completed all the necessary paperwork for the medication.
Disclosing medical records is a personal invasion in itself, but Biles spoke out for the mental illness community and said that she is not ashamed to share her disorder with the world.
Overall, words cannot do enough to describe Biles as a gymnast and a person. Sometimes, we might even consider her to be superhuman. But in the end, we are reminded that she is still a human teenage girl because she literally collapsed when she met Zac Efron.