Simone Biles: Already Considered the G.O.A.T, Is She Done Yet?

While commonly dubbed the G.O.A.T. in gymnastics, Simone Biles isn’t done just yet.

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By Yume Igarashi

During the Rio 2016 Olympics, all eyes were on 19-year-old Simone Biles. It was no surprise that the USA was in great shape coming into Rio, but Biles took it to even greater heights. The pressure was immense. She hadn’t lost in three years at that point, but when it finally came to the competition, she didn’t disappoint. Flip after flip, Biles landed everything with ease and was able to secure the gold in four events: the vault, floor, all-around, and team events, as well as a bronze in the balance beam. Now, despite being 24 years of age, she is projected to do even better in Tokyo, and statistically, she is even better than she was at 19. Biles has made a strong case for herself as the greatest gymnast of all time, having garnered every possible accolade at the highest level in gymnastics and is one of the most influential athletes in the world. After 25 world championship medals and four Olympic gold medals, she is still going. In fact, she is arguably becoming even more dominant.

When you stack other elite gymnasts against her, Biles is miles ahead. It seems like in every other competition, she performs a new trick that no one else has done before. She has four tricks named after her, dubbed “The Biles,” which are the hardest tricks that can be done in the sport. They include one on the vault (a roundoff, back handspring with half turn entry; front stretched somersault with two twists), one on the balance beam (a double-twisting double-tuck salto backwards dismount), and two on the floor (a double layout with a half twist, which only four people, including Biles, have been successful in doing, as well as the triple-twisting double-tuck salto backwards).

Training for Tokyo 2021, Biles is not only one of the most experienced, but also one of the oldest gymnasts on the national team at 24 years old. If she wins this year’s Olympics, she may be the oldest American woman to win the all-around gold in the Olympics. In an interview with TODAY, she mentioned how she thinks about her age “all the time,” and that “[younger athletes] have less years than me, so I feel like they’re a little bit fresher. They can recover quicker.” Despite the age gap against her competition, she seems more than ready. The Olympics are less than two months away, but Biles has remained at the top of her game, training hard in the gym while making sure she can peak at the right time. However, Biles’s impact on the sport goes beyond just her greatness in competition.

Biles went on a hiatus from gymnastics in 2017, taking a break from constantly competing and training, traveling and writing her autobiography in the meantime. But just the following year, she came back. She felt like she had something to give back, not just to the sport itself, but also to the community around her. After the Larry Nassar scandal, when over 260 victims testified against Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor, for sexual abuse, Biles felt that the Gymnastics committee didn’t do enough to implement change in the sport. As she said, “I just feel like everything that happened had to come back to the sport, to be a voice, to have change happen because I feel like if there weren’t a remaining survivor in the sport, they would have just brushed it to the side.”

Additionally, she has been adamant about her switch in sponsorship, from her once lucrative deal with Nike to Gap’s Athleta, a company that puts a greater focus on women. This change follows many other elite female athletes, such as Allyson Felix, in their switch to companies that place higher values on women and ethics. This transition comes as no surprise as Nike has been put under fire for not just issues with women, but for issues with workplace abuse and environmental practices as well, in recent years.

Just as fans saw in Rio 2016, Biles will shine on the big stage once again in Tokyo. But questions still ring in skeptics’ heads: can she really continue her dominance? Can she really be even better than she was in 2016? She certainly thinks so: “I had already reached and passed all my expectations in the sport already […] going back to, in 2018 […] and in 2019, I was kind of like, ‘Okay, I don’t really have anything to lose at this point. I’ve already stamped my status on the sport.’”

The fact is, nobody even comes close to Biles’s consistency or dominance. The elite gymnasts are all in one tier of greatness, but Biles is in a tier of her own, higher than any gymnast to ever play the sport. Biles is an inspiration to all for her values and hard work, among many of the other traits she possesses. She will finish her career as not just the best gymnast ever to come out of the sport, but as one of the best and most dominant athletes across all sports ever.