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Gymnastics

The Reign Of Simone Biles Continues

Simone Biles of Team United States walks out ahead of the Women's Vault Final on Day Eight of the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at Antwerp Sportpaleis on October 07, 2023 in Antwerp, Belgium.
Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The numbers tell the story. After this year's World Championships, Simone Biles is now the most decorated gymnast—of any gender—in history. Biles holds 37 world and Olympic medals. Five skills bear her name, the latest being the Biles II vault, named for her after she became the first woman to land a Yurchenko double pike in international competition. Led by Biles, the U.S. team secured its seventh world championship in a row. She remains unbeaten in world championship in the all-around and floor.

There was so much to love about this year's championship. Brazil won its first team medal, while France won its first since 1950. Three black women made up the women's all-around podium—Biles with the gold, Rebeca Andrade with silver for Brazil, and Shilese Jones with bronze for the United States. The U.S. men won their first team medal in nine years, and Fred Richard won the all-around bronze, making him the first U.S. men's all-around medalist since 2010 and just the fourth in history.

Yet it all came back to Biles. How could it not? Her dominance is as captivating as it is undisputed. She won her sixth world all-around gold 10 years after her first, also in Antwerp.

Perhaps this is why my favorite Biles moments from this competition remain the ones that are less about Biles being the best—of course she is the best—and more about being reminders that she is not a machine but a young woman from Texas who got married earlier this year. Like when she tripped when she was supposed to do a leap, made a "whoopsies!" face, and kept going.

Or during the vault final when she over-rotated on her history-making vault and landed on her butt, which meant taking home silver instead of gold in that event. (A short side note: Over-rotating is much safer than under-rotating, which is where the worst injuries happen.) Biles told reporters, "I just had a little bit more power but, again, better over than under so I'm not mad about it at all. Everybody was, like, upset but I didn't care. I didn't care if I didn't even end up on the podium as long as I'm here."

Afterward Biles shared a video of her and Andrade dancing and having a great time. Before that, when one reporter pushed her, asking why she was there if she didn’t care, Biles calmly replied: "I had to prove to myself that I could still get out here [and] twist. I could prove all the haters wrong that I'm not a quitter, this, that, the other. So, for me, it was me; I didn't care. So as long as I'm out there twisting again, having and finding the joy for gymnastics again, who cares?"

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