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07th Jul 2021

There’s no one in sports quite like Simone Biles

Sarah McKenna Barry

The greatest of all time.

I remember the first time I saw Simone Biles compete.

It was before the 2016 Summer Olympics, and her name was coming up everywhere on my newsfeed. It wasn’t until I clicked on the video and watched her floor routine from 2015 World Championships that I understood what the hype was all about.

I was blown away by her power, her skills, her performance. In the years since, Biles has made history numerous times. With 30 Olympic and World Championship medals under her belt, Simone is the most decorated gymnast in US history, and is widely considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time.

Earlier this year, Biles became the first female athlete to perform the Yurchenko double pike during competition. The incredibly difficult vault trick involves a round-off onto the springboard followed by a back handspring with a back twist onto the vault, and finally a double pike flip.

Indeed, from a technical standpoint, Biles is flawless. But, even if you don’t have a thorough understanding of the technicalities of the sport, it’s difficult to deny the athlete’s magnificence. Simone effortlessly weaves gravity-defying tricks into a showstopping performance, embodying the very nature of gymnastics.

Additionally, the athlete’s attitude to herself is refreshing. Simone is aware of her own greatness. She recently stepped out in competition with a goat sequined on her back, to call out her haters directly.

When her critics mocked her by suggesting she’d put a goat on her leotard (to symbolise being the ‘Greatest Of All Time’), Simone decided to do it anyway.

“That’s actually a good idea,” Simone said at the time. “Let’s make the haters hate it, and the fans love it.”

Biles doesn’t shy away from her greatness. She embraces it.

Off the mat, Biles’ emotional strength is equally impressive. The athlete has spoken openly about the hardships she’s endured throughout her life – from childhood hunger to sexual abuse.

In 2018, Biles told her followers that she was one of the many gymnasts who had been abused by Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the USA team.

“After hearing the brave stories of my friends and other survivors, I know that this horrific experience does not define me,” she wrote.

“I am much more than this. I am unique, smart, talented, motivated and passionate. I have promised myself that my story will be much greater than this, and I promise all of you that I will never give up. I will compete with all of my heart and soul every time I step into the gym.

“I love this sport too much and I have never been a quitter. I won’t let one man and the others that enabled him, to steal my love and joy.”

Between her technical prowess, her performance ability, and her strength on and off the mat, Biles is an inspiration to women and girls everywhere.