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GOAT: Simone Biles

Only 26, she is already in the exclusive and legendary camp of Olympians such as Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and American swimmer Michael Phelps. It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that Simone Biles is already the greatest gymnast ever!

Biles shot to fame in 2013: at just 16 years old, she won two world championship golds, including the overall title. At the 2014 World Championships, Biles won four gold medals: in the women’s team event, as well as in the individual combined, beam, and floor exercise. In 2015, Biles won her third consecutive United States combined title, becoming the first woman to achieve this feat since Kim Zmeskal in 1992. Biles was too young to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, so by the time Rio 2016 came around – her first Olympics – she was already a superstar and the heavy favourite to win the title. She did not disappoint, first leading the United States to a gold medal in the team event and then winning the individual all-around. She also won the floor and vault events, becoming the fifth female gymnast to win four gold medals in a single Olympics. Biles also won a bronze medal on the beam, bringing her total to five medals. She then took a break and in 2018 announced that she had been victimised by Larry Nassar, a former doctor for the US gymnastics team who was convicted of sexually abusing several athletes.

She returned at the 2018 US National Championships, where she became the first female gymnast in nearly 25 years to win all five events. Biles became the most decorated female gymnast in World Championships history when she won four golds, a silver, and a bronze at the 2018 World Championships, bringing her career total at that event to 20 medals. Biles didn’t relax in 2019, becoming the first gymnast in more than six decades to win five gold medals at the World Championships, including one in the all-around. She overtook Vitaly Scherbo of Belarus to become the gymnast with the most world championship medals (25). Also in 2019, she won five medals at the US national championships, including four golds. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, there were no major competitions in 2020, but the forced break was no problem for Biles. At the 2021 U.S. Classic, she became the first female gymnast to land the Yurchenko double tuck, the hardest vault in the sport, in a competition. Later that year, she competed at the U.S. National Championships, where she captured her seventh multi-event title and won three additional gold medals. She had high hopes for the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were postponed until 2021. To everyone’s surprise, she withdrew from most of the events due to so-called “twisties”, a mental block in which gymnasts lose their spatial orientation during aerial movements. Her withdrawal from competition sparked debate about the pressures on athletes and raised awareness of the huge importance of mental health.

“We have to protect our mental health and our bodies, I’m not going to compromise my health. We should not just go out there and do what the world expects us to do.”

Biles eventually came back for the final event, the beam, and won the bronze medal. In all, she won 19 world championship medals in her career, by far the most ever won by an American gymnast (10 world championship gold medals were the most ever won by a female gymnast in the history of the sport.)

For the past two years, she has been living a “normal” life, marrying an American football player, Jonathan Owens, in May this year. In June, she announced that she would resume training at the age of 26 and would return to the floor in early August at the US Classic, a qualifier for the US championships. She competed again after 732 days, after which she shifted her focus to the 2024 Paris Olympics. She plans to compete in the five-peat, putting her previous problems behind her.

Her dominance is based on her perfect mastery of the fundamentals of gymnastics: with her petite 142cm frame, incredible athletic ability and strength, and low centre of gravity, she is born to be the perfect gymnast. Add to this his hard work, consistency, creativity and of course, her engaging personality and she is almost unbeatable. Biles is once again optimistic about the future, which will now take her to Paris.