Simone Biles doing the impossible has become old hat. The greatest gymnast of all-time has been dominating the sport since 2013, but what she’s doing now literally defies belief. At an age where most of her peers are leaving the sport, Biles isn’t just sticking around, she’s thriving, and only getting better. That should terrify the rest of the world.
Aly Raisman was presented as the “grizzled veteran” when she competed at Rio in 2016. She was 22-years old at the time. Obviously still brilliant, it was also clear Raisman was slowing down. Her style changed in Rio, leaning towards reliability and technicality, rather than high-difficulty skills. This is a common strategy for aging gymnasts, and Raisman nailed it, winning another gold medal with the U.S. team, and another two individual medals in all-around and floor, winning silver in all-around and floor, finishing second to Biles.
Now, we return to Biles. She’s 24 now, two years older than Raisman was in 2016, and doing this.
The Yurchenko double pike, Biles’ newest vault, is widely considered to be the most difficult vault in women’s gymnastics. Pulling it off at the Olympic trials, the move is being met with immediate doubt — with people concerned the move is too risky to be attempted on a stage as big as the Olympic Games.
Of course, there’s also drama surrounding the move. The Yurchenko double pike was given a provisional degree of difficulty of 6.6 by gymnastics’ governing body, believed to be extremely unfair, considering nobody else in the world is capable of completing the move. It’s let to claims of discrimination against Biles, which, honestly — is accurate.
The world was given the ability to handicap Biles, and took it. Good luck to them, they need it.
Biles is entering this Olympics in a very different position that she was five years ago. Back in Rio it was her first games, with all the expectation to be the future of U.S. gymnastics. Now, she’s lived up to that pressure. Proved she’s the GOAT, and is showing that off — wearing a custom-made GOAT leotard she will not apologize for, nor should she.
“It’s like, everybody can say you’re good, but once you acknowledge it, it’s not cool anymore,” Biles told 60 Minutes, “And I want kids to learn that, yes, it’s okay to acknowledge that you’re good or even great at something.”
This is the next evolution of Biles. The shy, smiling teenager we saw dominating the World Championships in from 2013-16 has been replaced by by a stone-cold killer, inspiring children away from competition, and defeating anyone who stands in her way. This is Simone Biles’ Olympics when it comes to gymnastics, and we’re all just living in it.
We are witnessing the incomparable. A 24-year-old gymnast poised to dominate again, with the whole world against her, and the entire USA behind her. It’s going to be the most compelling story of the Olympic games. I’m so ready.