By Nancy Armour |
Simone Biles will still be untouchable next year.
The reigning Olympic and world champion was a heavy favorite to win five medals, likely all of them gold, at this summer’s Tokyo Games, and that isn’t likely to change in the coming months. In fact, she might widen the gap between her and her competitors even further if she gets serious about that new vault she’s teased fans with on social media.
Biles hasn’t lost an all-around competition dating to the 2013 U.S. championships. Her 25 medals at the world championships are more than any other gymnast, male or female, and her 19 golds at worlds are also a record. Some of Biles’ skills are so ridiculously difficult that other gymnasts don’t even try them, let alone do them in competition.
She has no close competition in the world – no competition, period, really – and there’s no one coming up from the junior ranks who will push her, either. No, her biggest challenge might be time.
Not in the sense of some other veteran athletes, who were hoping their bodies could just hang on long enough to get through this year. Biles is blessed with such natural talent that even when she took a year off following the 2016 Rio Games, she was able to pick up her old skills in almost no time when she returned to the gym.
She doesn’t overtrain, and she’s always erred on the side of caution with her most difficult skills. By the time she performs a skill in competition, she’s been training it for several years. And was likely playing around with it for several more years before that.
So physical shape won’t be an issue. But she is 23 now – her birthday was March 14 – and has said Tokyo will be her last Olympics. Another year is a long time to train.
Biles is also very driven, though. Not by medals or titles, but by testing her own capabilities. Now that she’s come this far, the odds of her not seeing it through to next year are slim.
There are a lot of things that will change and have to be adjusted with the Tokyo Games being pushed back. Biles’ place at the top of the podium won’t be one of them.
This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.