Following her incredible performance in the women’s all around finals in gymnastics on August 11, Simone Biles found it necessary to clear the air about one tiny detail.
Perhaps anticipating any breathless commentary from the press who often find it necessary to compare a woman’s achievements in athletics to that of a man’s, Biles took control of her own narrative. In an interview following her remarkable performance in the women’s all around, she said “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”
Her win in the all around puts her in the same category as winners like Nastia Liukin, Gabby Douglas and Mary Lou Retton. Comparing Biles to these women would be fine, I guess, but really, anyone paying attention to the gymnastics in Rio could see that Biles is an incredible athlete who performs feats that do not make any sense because they look and seem impossible.
Anyone who watched Simone Biles dominate the competition in the women’s all around final understands this statement, but it bears repeating: Comparing Simone Biles to fish-human hybrid Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt is a false equivalence. She’s not those men. She’s Simone Goddamn Biles.