Simone Biles stands as an unassailable force, a presence that requires no justification. Her silence isn’t a flaw; it’s a deliberate choice. And her ability to put her experiences into words sometimes falls short.
Simone Biles Retains Reign as US Gymnastics Champion
At the pinnacle of her prowess, as demonstrated on a memorable Sunday night when she secured an unprecedented eighth U.S. championship title, Biles likened her state to a “fever dream.” It’s not a mechanical routine; it’s a distinct ambiance, a seamless flow.
In such instances, the persistent doubts that have lingered even after a decade of unparalleled excellence seem to dissolve into the background.
Embracing the Present and Cherishing Success
There’s no mental chatter, overthinking, or grappling with the “twisties” that had once challenged her. Her coach, Laurent Landi, calls it a skill, though Biles, even at 26, remains humble, perhaps because she’s reluctant to overanalyze her innate talent.
She acknowledges her past battles with overthinking and self-doubt, a struggle she’s determined to surmount this time.
A Mesmerizing Performance and Baffling Disconnect
In an arresting floor routine that captivated the audience and compelled her fellow competitors to pause and watch, Biles wore an authentic smile. A performance that prompted a standing ovation from the packed SAP Center crowd left her somewhat mystified. Even as her coaches praised her flawless execution of tumbling passes, Biles felt disconnected.
“For some reason, it just doesn’t feel real,” she commented.
Embracing Happiness and Recognizing Achievements
Yet, it undeniably was – an extraordinary achievement.
A decade ago, she was a teenage prodigy, focusing more on the path ahead than reflecting on her achievements. She focused on world championships, team camps, and the ultimate zenith, the Olympics.
Now, at 26, newly married, Biles is committed to savoring the moment. Just six months ago, she was uncertain about her commitment. Three weeks prior, she experienced waves of nausea in Chicago each time she saluted the judges before performing.
A Legacy of Evolution and Growth
The woman who attained a two-day all-around score of 118.40 during the weekend’s competition in Northern California – a substantial four points ahead of the runner-up Shilese Jones and well clear of third-placed Florida junior Leanne Wong – is embracing happiness this time. It contrasts to previous occasions when she struggled to permit such elation.
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“We make a genuine effort to celebrate our achievements individually and as a team just so that in a couple of years, you can remember this,” she shared, acknowledging her tendency to overlook past triumphs.
The Future and the Inevitable Transition
Biles comprehends that her gymnastics journey won’t last indefinitely despite feeling like it already has in some aspects.
Usually, peaks in athletes’ careers aren’t sustained for such extended periods. Most elite gymnasts at 26 strive to retain their abilities if they haven’t retired.
Biles, however, has a distinct outlook. Landi noted that her flawless floor routine in the finals was the best he’d ever witnessed.
Pushing Boundaries and Making History
Biles’ eight titles surpassed the record set by Alfred Jochim, who claimed seven titles between 1925 and 1933 when the Amateur Athletics Union organized the championships, including men’s rope climbing events.
Yes, you read that correctly – rope climbing.
The sport has evolved immensely over the past century. Biles stands at the forefront of this evolution, consistently pushing boundaries with her exceptional abilities.
Balancing Training and Privacy
Her training methods have grown more sophisticated, a concession to the two decades of hard work she’s invested. While she remains one of the most recognizable figures in the Olympic movement, she’s become more discerning about sharing every facet of her life as she sets her sights on the upcoming Paris Olympics.
With a hint of humor, Biles mentioned that she values her privacy due to people’s curiosity. In reality, she seeks personal space.
“I prefer to keep my goals private, just so that I know what I’m striving for,” Biles explained. “I believe it’s more effective that way. This year, I’m attempting a different approach compared to the past. So far, it seems to be working, and I will maintain that discretion.”
Balancing Act and Pursuit of Joy
Her life now appears more balanced, influenced by the notion that “it’s just gymnastics,” a philosophy that has fueled her ascent.
Time hasn’t yet caught up to her, although she exercised caution – according to her standards – during the recent competition. A minor ankle tweak during vault practice on Friday didn’t deter her from earning the highest score of the night for her Cheng vault (14.850), as well as impressive scores on the beam (14.8) and floor (15.400).
The Journey Ahead
Biles’ next destination is Antwerp in late September, where she aims to add to her already remarkable tally of 25 world championship medals, 18 of which are gold.
Another standout, Shilese Jones, is likely to accompany her. Jones, at 21, excels on bars despite her height (around 5 feet 6 inches), and her stellar performance during the event earned her a top score.
Uncertain Paths and Defining Moments
The rest of the team joining Biles and Jones at the world championships remains uncertain.
Sunisa Lee, the reigning Olympic champion grappling with a kidney issue throughout the year, could compete as a specialist. Leanne Wong, who balances both NCAA and elite competition, showcased impressive performances on bars and floor.
Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles, Biles’ teammates from the 2020 Olympics, who have divided their time between college and elite gymnastics, had their ups and downs. Chiles experienced falls on both bars and beam, while Carey secured a spot in the top 10 only on vault – an event where the American team is expected to shine.
Guiding the Charge
Guiding this charge is Biles, who humorously questions herself daily about her motivations. The answer is simple: She feels accountable to herself.