Tag: African-American gymnast

FEATURE: Atop the Gymnastics World, National Champion Simone Biles Can’t Suppress Her Grin

Simone Biles smiled nearly the whole way through her floor exercise on both days of the United States women’s gymnastics championships in St. Louis. (Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

article by Juliet Macur via nytimes.com

ST. LOUIS — At the end of the United States women’s gymnastics championships here on Sunday night, so many gold medals hung around Simone Biles’s neck that when she walked, they clinked so loudly it made her giggle. A few times, she grabbed her medals to silence them and laughed yet again.

“I always have so much fun,” Biles said later, after she had won her fourth straight national title in the all-around event and gold medals in three of the four individual events. The last time a woman had won a fourth consecutive national title in the all-around was 42 years ago.

“People think you have to be serious to do a good job,” she said. “But I think if you’re having fun, you can do better. You can look back someday and say, wow, I had a good time instead of being so stressed out.”

That’s easier said than done in elite gymnastics, a sport that can be a dangerous endeavor. One slip could break bones or tear ligaments, or possibly something worse. But this happy-go-lucky attitude in a grueling, often solemn sport works for Biles, the three-time defending world champion in the all-around. And it makes perfect sense that it works.

After all, it’s fun to compete when you win and win and when the word around the sport is that you’re the best gymnast ever. Mary Lou Retton, the Olympic gold medalist in the all-around in 1984, has called Biles the top gymnast in history. Nastia Liukin, the Olympic gold medalist in 2008, has said that Biles is a lock for the gold medal at the Rio Games in August and that the real competition is for second place.

During the two-day national championships here, which were a warm-up for next month’s Olympic trials in San Jose, Calif., Martha Karolyi, the women’s national team coordinator, watched Biles’s routines closely — often with eyes opened extra wide.

After several of Biles’s big performances — and nearly all of them were big performances — Karolyi said, “Wow!” It was a substantial reaction from a woman who is the opposite of effusive: She gave two slow claps to Gabrielle Douglas’s floor exercise on Sunday, and Douglas is the reigning Olympic champion in the all-around.

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Gymnast Simone Biles Named U.S. Female Olympic Athlete of the Year

Fresh off her historic 2015 World Gymnastic Championships win this fall, the Olympic hopeful was recently awarded one of the highest accolades attainable to American athletes. On Thursday, she was named the winner of the Team USA Female Olympic Athlete of the Year, beating out tennis GOAT Serena Williams and nine-time world champion swimmer Katie LedeckyUSA Today wrote.

(photo via Instagram)

Even more awesome? Biles did it without having actually having been on an Olympic team. She was too young to make the 2012 Olympic team that competed in the London games, but Biles, along with Gold medalist Gabby Douglas, are prepping for the Olympic trials next July to win a spot on the U.S. team heading to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics. 

Biles’ athleticism is a tour-de-force as she continues to break records wherever she tumbles.

Since she began competing in 2013, the Texan-native has not lost any meets, winning “14 world championship medals in three years; 10 of them gold, the most by a woman in history,” writes ESPN.com. She is also the first woman in 23 years to win three U.S. Gymnastics Championships and this fall, she became the first woman in history to win three consecutive all-around titles at the World Gymnastics Championships.

Biles was just one of many winners announced at the ceremony held in Philadelphia, others awardees included:

  • Male Olympic Athlete of the Year – Jordan Burroughs, Wrestling
  • Olympic Team of the Year – USA Women’s Soccer
  • Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year – Tatyana McFadden, Track and Field
  • Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year – Joe Berenyi, Cycling
  • Paralympic Team of the Year – USA Hockey

article by Kellee Terrell via blackamericaweb.com

Simone Biles Wins Her 2nd Consecutive All-Around Title at World Gymnastics Championships

Simone Biles

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