Simone Biles is just 24 years old, but she’s already been through more both as an athlete and a human being than most experience in a lifetime. After a slew of gold medal performances in 2016, Biles is the poster child for the modern Olympic athlete. On the mat, however, she’s still proving why she’s the best to ever do it.
Simone Biles flips into the limelight
Biles was born in Texas and bit by the gymnastics bug at six, according to Britannica. From the moment she entered Bannon’s Gymnastix, she lived for gymnastics, becoming the Junior National Champion at 12 years old. Then, in 2011, she went professional and has not looked back since.
Despite her rising stature, Biles was too young to compete at the 2012 Olympics in London. However, by the 2016 games, she was already a major name in the sport. She took home four gold medals and became a household name around the world.
In the aftermath, Biles’ voice grew bigger. She became a poster child for abuse victims after joining with a chorus of other gymnasts who spoke out against Larry Nassar. Still open about her struggles. However, Biles is back on the mat and keeping her focus on the sport. If a recent move was any hint at what’s to come, the best opponents can do is pray she makes a mistake.
Simone Biles defies the odds
According to CNN, the Yurchenko Double Pike, named after the Russian gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, is a historically tricky move typically reserved for male competitors with more muscle and mass to work with. However, if anyone was going to land the move, it’s Simone Biles.
Biles’s willingness to make the impossible seem possible is how she got to where she is. The move’s own namesake, Yurchenko, never braved the move during actual competition but instead did it under more controlled circumstances.
Biles, however, is of a different breed. The Yurchenko double pike involves a roundoff on the springboard, a back handspring onto the table, and a double backflip onto the ground in one fell swoop. It takes athleticism, fearlessness, immaculate timing, and a willingness to do what others can’t. As the New York Times noted, she nailed every aspect of it with precision.
Of course, Biles fits these descriptors and then some, but it doesn’t mean she expected it to happen. Biles showed the entire range of emotions following her historic move as she grappled with the fallout of the move.
Simone Biles reacts to her record-setting Yurchenko double pike
Biles initially played coy after accomplishing the feat. She said the biggest hurdle wasn’t the enormous task she faced but the willingness to fail if it didn’t work. She weighed the good with the bad, meditated on the outcomes, and let it fly, accord to CBS.
“I was just thinking, do it like training. Don’t try to like overdo anything because I have a tendency, as soon as I raise my hand to overpower things and I did a little bit, but I was still on my feet,” Biles told the publication. “It’s a new vault, and I’m proud of how today went even though it was a little bit rough and uncharacteristic, but it was okay.”
Biles teased the move for several months. If the 2021 Olympics are a go, fans may see it happen on the biggest stage. According to her interview with Texas Monthly before the feat, the trick is to pretend you’re in practice and not worry about the fanfare.
“There haven’t been too many times where I was like, ‘Oh, that was really scary. Maybe we shouldn’t do that,'” Biles said. “It’s actually been like, ‘Wow, this is feasible, we can do this.’ I feel like it might be a better bet to do it in the all-around final because you do get that one-touch warm-up, rather than vault finals where you don’t.”
Despite the confidence, however, Biles tweeted that she still “can’t believe” she completed the move. Whether the Tokyo Olympics happen or not, Biles days in US Gymnastics are likely almost done. 24 is not old in most circles, but its ancient in Olympics. However, if one person can make a long career of it, it’s Biles. This mix of confidence, skill, and humility is why she is America’s favorite gymnast.