Simone Biles Keeps Winning

Illustration for article titled Simone Biles Keeps Winning
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Simone Biles, a gymnast so talented and legendary we ran out of ways to describe the full scope of her might during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, has done it again.

On Sunday, Biles became the first woman in nearly 70 years to become a six-time U.S. all-around champion, having earned the national title in every championship since 2013 (except in 2017, when she took a post-Olympic year off). NBC points out that she “only won four of the five” gold medals this week, as opposed to her 2018 sweep. Truly a disappointment.



In fact, not only did Biles make history by taking the championship, she made history on Sunday by becoming the first woman to land a triple twisting double somersault during her floor routine. It looks as wild as it sounds:

And on Saturday, Biles managed to land a double-double dismount—double twist, double somersault—off the high beam. She is the first person ever to accomplish this, a feat which is absolutely mind-boggling to think about:


Today I watched five episodes of Love Island, so I am equally accomplished, no need to clap.


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honkhonkhonk - check if it's really me!

There’s something about her where she breaks the mold in every aspect of gymnastics and makes her a GOAT for more than just her capabilities. She’s incredible for so many reasons. Forgetting her insane skills for just a moment, consider:

First, she’s busting the old (ageist and misogynist) ways of doing gymnastics.

  • She defies the old way of gymnasts being prepubescent sylphs - she’s not the first to do this, but she is the bst. She has described watching the rise of Aly Raisman before becoming a champion herself as being like “hey! That girl has a chest and muscle thighs and is also amazing! I could be like that!” and then DID, and now she’s out here with an adult form still winning everything by a country mile.
  • She defies gymnasts having a short peak of dominance - most women have a year or two where they’re at their competitive best, but they can’t sustain their levels of difficulty or performance, even with intercompetition and annual pacing, because body parts literally cannot recover fast enough. In general, you try to peak so your hardest skills and best execution coincide in an Olympic year, knowing that you can’t keep that going forever. Simone dominates AND THEN KEEPS GOING.
  • Combine the first and second points: a lot of younger girls with stellar skills and performances hit an inevitable injury as young teens and have to take time off to recover, and puberty hits them like a bus during their time off. When they come back to the sport, they have to re-learn skills and air awareness and their own body’s physics due to their change in center of gravity, weight distribution, etc. They aren’t always successful (in fact the rate at which they aren’t is... bad). Gymnasts in the mold of Simone hold off on the most impressive skills until they have their adult bodies and develop more strength to support those skills. Some of that is down to her sheer talent, but also she makes a great argument for strength and conditioning as opposed to focusing on staying light and small.

All in all, she just says “fuck you” to the way that elite gymnastics traditionally uses up a girl’s body and then casts her aside for the next big thing.

Second, she uses her power for good: she’s out there crying on television to call out the USAG and USOC establishment for being ABSOLUTE SHIT; because she’s the GOAT and they know it, she doesn’t have to kowtow to their bullshit to be sure she makes a team. She can rock whatever boat she damn pleases. Plus, she’s a dual citizen of Belize, so if USAG ever decided to be like “please shut up and go away,” she could go compete for them and then fuck up USA’s winning streak. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw her take a knee after winning a competition at some point.

Third, she’s come back to gymnastics as a fully independent adult - obviously of privilege, given her earnings after winning this much - but she’s also breaking the mold of the compliant, obediant, focused child gymnast who can be made or broken at a coach’s whim. With both her current and previous coaches, she’s made it clear that their relationship is collaborative rather than subservient. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have high-profile gymnasts like her demonstrating that that’s not only possible, it’s desirable; it’s the best way to show that we should leave behind the old culture forever.

TL;DR Simone belongs in the same up-yours-establishment category as Serena Williams, and I cannot stan them hard enough.