“No hyperbole here: Simone Biles is the greatest.” ESPN’s headline says it all. After an incredible performance this week at the FIG Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Biles became the most decorated competitor in world gymnastics championships history. After picking up gold medals for balance beam and floor exercise, her total of world championship medals became 25, breaking the record set by the legendary Vitaly Scherbo.
The latest victory is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Of her 25 world championship medals, 19 are gold. She’s also a five-time World all-around champion and a six-time United States national all-around champion. As an Olympian, Biles was a member of the gold-medal-winning team in 2016 where she also picked up three individual golds and a bronze. The young champion has won a combined total of thirty Olympic and World Championship medals.
When commentators and fans call Simone Biles the greatest gymnast of all time, there is no argument. But for many, labeling the young powerhouse as gymnastic’s G.O.A.T. doesn’t go far enough. As Nancy Armour writes for USA Today, Biles is “now so dominant, the fairer comparisons are with the likes of LeBron James, Serena Williams or Tom Brady. Or, in Olympic terms, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. Their sports are different, yes. But their singular achievements, as well as the way they’ve changed their games, are very much the same.”
But it’s not just her thrilling showmanship and her stunning technical consistency that make Biles the greatest. It’s also her consistent demonstration of impeccable sportsmanship as well as her grit and resilience in the face of some pretty significant life challenges. More recently those challenges include coming out as a victim of Larry Nassar and her brother’s arrest on triple homicide charges.
For Biles, this is the time of her life. She’s learned to enjoy her success and she sometimes marvels at her abilities along with the rest of us. “Sometimes I wonder how I do it, ” Biles said. “I feel like it’s just like not me. I wish I could have an out-of-body experience to witness it.” A real treat is getting skills named after her, like the triple-double now called the Biles II.
While this was likely her last World Championships, Biles is looking forward to further cementing her G.O.A.T. status at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. We can’t wait!
Photo Credits: Rio de Janeiro – Simone Biles, ginasta dos Estados Unidos, durante final em que levou medalha de ouro na disputa por equipes feminina nos Jogos Olímpicos Rio 2016. (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil) by Agência Brasil Fotografias is licenced under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)