The legend of Simone Biles continues to grow as she establishes herself as the greatest African-American gymnast to ever do the damn thing. Biles, who has won the last three world championships in the all-around and finished first in Sunday’s Olympic preliminary round, helped the United States beat China by an “unheard of” nearly 10 points.
Biles is the first African-American to be world all-around champion and the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles. Biles is also blinging more than any female gymnast in World Championships history. The lit leaper has a total of fourteen medals. Her 10 gold medals is also a World Championship record.
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Her existence is an inspiration to millions of girls and her dominance, healthy physical composition and her combination of grace, humility, fierceness, strength and confidence elevates the possibilities and future of women’s gymnastics every time Biles tackles the mat, braves the balance beam, flies on the uneven bars or does a wild ninja flip off the vault for our viewing pleasure.
The 19-year-old Queen Mother of The Mat has taken the torch from Gabby Douglas, the celebrated 2012 Olympic All-Around champion and Black gymnastics pioneer and somersaulted through the roof with it, becoming the hottest American Olympic commodity since Mary Lou Retton astounded the 1984 LA Olympics viewership with a perfect 10 on the vault.
When it comes to American gymnastics legends, Biles is swiftly moving up the list.
Biles’ success as a gymnast and an African-American is so emphatic that she not only overshadowed Douglas’ attempt for an unprecedented back-to-back Olympic gold medal in the all-around competition, but by finishing 1.76 points ahead of second place gymnast Aly Raisman, Douglas’ third-place finish wasn’t enough.
Two years ago, it was all set up for Douglas to dominate the social media mill this Olympics as the O.G. gymnast who came back for another rodeo. Douglas had the highly-anticipated reality TV show documenting her attempt to become the first gymnast to win an Olympic gold in consecutive tournaments. She had great momentum coming out of the Olympic Trials and in most cases, would have been grabbing all of the headlines this Olympics as she chased immortality.
Unfortunately, Douglas’ second shot at glory coincided with the rise of Biles who is the future of women’s gymnastics. It’s like everybody before Jordan kind of gets shafted by history. Biles is that MJ talent. She toyed with her competitors on Sunday as she finished first in three of the four events: floor exercise, vault and balance beam.
“Obviously, as expected,” said Raisman, who basically admitted that the only competition is for second place in these Olympics. In other words, it’s the biggest foregone conclusion in Olympics history that Biles will be grabbing gold at Rio. The major question is, how many medals will she earn?
Biles was born in 1997 in Columbus, Ohio. Her mother struggled with drug addiction and her gymnastics career began when she and her younger sister left foster care and were adopted by their maternal grandfather Ronald and his wife Nelly. It’s a fairy tale story because it takes a lot more than luck and determination to become an Olympic world champion, especially in gymnastics.
First off, you have to have the goods and when Biles first tumbled at a daycare field trip, the instructors were moved by her talents. It’s also time consuming, inconvenient as far as finding elite training facilities go and expensive.
Her parents had the paper to help her realize her talents. Ronald is a retired air traffic controller and her stepmother Nellie is a former co-owner of a chain of nursing homes.
Biles first exposure to gymnastics was at six years old. By age 8, she enrolled in an optional training program at Bannon’s Gymnastix and started training with a coach.
By 18, she planned to attend UCLA’s prestigious gymnastics program. Instead, Biles decided to go for the gusto in her first Olympics, ride the momentum and continue to captivate the masses and inspire an interest in gymnastics within the African-American community with her unprecedented talents.
You’ll be hearing a lot more about Biles as women’s gymnastics takes the international stage in the upcoming days.
Douglas will still help the US Squad in other disciplines, but her celebrity pop got rocked by Biles and then her chance to defend her 2012 title was robbed by the two-per-country rule.
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Beyond Biles, Team USA is loaded with talent and they are expected to dominate team competition. At the end of their subdivision, they had earned the highest team qualifying score, 185.238, by far. Second-place team China had 175.279 points.
Barring multiple injuries or unforeseen greatness from the opposing tumblers, this US women’s squad, under the tutelage of women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi (wife of legendary gymnastics champion-breeder Bela Karolyi), has a chance to dominate Olympic competition like no other country before it.