By Nancy Armour |
Another national title for Simone Biles? Been there, done that.
But a move on floor exercise so difficult no other woman has done it and very few men even try it? Now that made it a night to remember.
Biles landed her triple twisting-double somersault Sunday, getting so much height on the move the folks in the first half-dozen rows had to crane their necks to see her. An NBC replay showed she was actually above its boom camera, which means someone could have parked an SUV on the floor and Biles would have cleared it easily.
Take that, NBA Dunk Contest participants.
And unlike Friday night, when she had too much adrenaline and pitched forward, needing to put her hand down to avoid landing on her head, she landed perfectly upright. The back of one of her heels was close to the out-of-bounds line, but she lifted it with such catlike quickness and no flag was raised.
Biles was beaming when she landed. Rightfully so.
“I was so relieved,” she said of the triple double. “Today I was very, very pleased.”
When she came back to gymnastics after taking a year off following the Rio Olympics, it wasn’t because she wanted more medals or had anything left to prove. She’s won every meet she’s entered dating back to the 2013 nationals — and often by large margins — and her sixth U.S. title tied a record that has stood since 1952.
She won five medals in Rio, four of them gold, and has more world titles than any other gymnast, male or female.
No, Biles wanted to challenge herself, to see how much she could wring out of her otherworldly talent. In doing so, she is pushing the boundaries of the sport beyond where anyone could ever imagined.
In this meet alone, she’s done two skills that no one else has ever tried. The triple-double on floor exercise gave her a score of 15.1 — a rarity on events besides vault for the women. She also did a double twisting, double somersault dismount on balance beam Friday night.
There is no question Biles is the best her sport has ever seen and, no offense to LeBron James, Mikaela Shiffrin, Serena Williams and Alex Morgan, you can make the argument that she’s the best athlete in the world right now, too.
Shiffrin seemed to agree, retweeting a video of Biles’ triple-double with a crown emoji
Four years ago, her U.S. teammates used to joke about the “Simone Division,” but it’s no longer a joke. At every meet, domestic or international, it’s not a question of whether she’ll win but by how much and what gravity-defying skills she’ll do along the way.
Her score of 118.500 was almost five points ahead of Sunisa Lee. She had the top scores on vault, floor and balance beam, and her uneven bars score of 14.750 was tied for second. When she finished bars — her least-favorite event — she gave coach Laurent Landi a huge hug then ran off the podium sticking out her tongue and waving her arms like a 4-year-old set free on the playground.
Her night was done and she’d won yet another title. Even better, she’d made the impossible possible.
Well, for Biles, at least.
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.