The icon. The innovator. The phenom. Simone Biles has been dominating the world of international gymnastics since bursting onto the scene in 2013. Now, at the age of 24, Biles is in Tokyo to defend Olympic gold. At an age where most gymnasts are slowing down, she’s getting even better.
It was unclear how Biles would return to Olympic competition following the one year delay due to Covid 19. Conventional wisdom before the delay said that Biles would be a critical leader of Team USA’s women, competing in various disciplines and helping them challenge for golds, much like Aly Raisman did for the team in 2016 at Rio. However, few anticipated her to be as dominant as she was in Rio, when she won four golds and a bronze, medaling in every event she competed in.
The came the Olympic trials, when Biles did this.
The Yurchenko double pike, a seemingly impossible vault was added to Biles’ arsenal are ready to take the world by storm. The maneuver was incredible, but it was under-valued by governing bodies which declared it a 6.6 degree of difficulty — much to the chagrin of gymnastics fans who felt it unfairly targeted Biles. An accurate gripe, but one she will fight through at Tokyo regardless.
Biles has her sights set on history
The magic number for Biles is five. That’s how many gold medals she needs to tie Larisa Latynina of the Soviet Union for most all-time by a gymnast. However, while it took Latynina three games to meet the mark, Biles could achieve it in two.
The prospect of winning every individual event, all-around, plus the team gold might seem impossible, those are the kind of odds Biles relishes in. Entering the games she’s the favorite in the women’s all around, vault, beam, and floor — as well as Team USA being pegged to win the team event.
It’s only the uneven bars where Biles isn’t favored, but she’s shown significant proficiency in the apparatus that counting her out is foolish.
It hasn’t been the perfect start ... so far
In the opening day of qualifiers Team USA posted lower-than-expected scores. Biles led the charge, but was far from perfect. After competition, Biles was honest that the pressure of the games, and the expectations surrounding her were weighing on her heavily. Posting on Instagram, she said:
“It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha!”
Despite the opening day jitters, count Biles out at your own peril. There’s been a tendency to believe she’s completely infallible, but keep in mind that on a “rough day” she still finished with higher scores that the majority of the field, and topped all her USA teammates except in uneven bars and balance beam.
How to watch Simone Biles compete in the Tokyo Olympics
Biles figures to be a major player in the apparatus finals, the all-around finals, and the women’s team. Assuming Biles qualifies, there will be five more days to watch her compete.
- Women’s Team Finals: Tuesday, July 27, at 6:45 a.m. ET.
- Women’s All-Around Finals: Thursday, July 29, at 6:50 a.m. ET.
- Women’s Vault and Uneven Bars Finals: Sunday, Aug. 1, at 4 a.m. ET.
- Women’s Floor Exercise Finals: Monday, Aug. 2, at 4 a.m. ET.
- Women’s Balance Beam Finals: Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 4 a.m. ET.