Gymnast Simone Biles became only the sixth woman, and first in 11 years, to win consecutive all-around titles at the World Gymnastics Championships in China today. This is only her fourth season at the elite level and, with the Rio Olympics two years away, the 17-year-old from Spring, Texas, still has room to grow.
“It actually blows my mind,” Biles said of winning back-to-back world titles. “If I think about it right now, I’m just like, `Whaaaat?’ It’s just like, I don’t know. It’s just really weird, but it’s really cool.”
After Svetlana Khorkina repeated as the all-around champion at the 2003 worlds, 10 different women would win the world or Olympic title from 2004-13. Injuries played a part in that volatility — Russia’s Aliya Mustafina looked set for a long run after winning in 2010, only to blow out her knee six months later — as has the sport’s relatively short window for success.
It’s really tough to stay healthy and at the top of your game for an entire quadrennium, especially when every year brings a new crop of phenoms.
But if anyone was going to break that streak of, well, no streak, it was Biles.
No one can match her for power or explosiveness. She is already doing one of the world’s toughest vaults, the Amanar, and she gets so high off the table it’s not inconceivable to think she could add another half-twist to her somersault. Her tumbling passes on floor exercise are so massive she really ought to get FAA clearance.
There’s more to Biles than circus tricks, however. All of her skills are done with precision and polish, making them look deceptively easy. Ordinary folks have more trouble walking on flat ground than Biles does doing an aerial somersault on a balance beam that’s 4 inches wide and 4 feet off the floor.
Most appealing is her personality. While other gymnasts are so intense or stoic they look angry during meets, Biles is constantly smiling and giggling. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and it’s no surprise she’s a favorite with her competitors.
“I know there is competition between pretty much everyone, but we’re such good friends,” said fellow American Kyla Ross, who won the bronze medal after being runner-up to Biles last year. “I think we’re really there to push each other.”
article by Nancy Armour via usatoday.com