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Simone Biles: The Talented African American and World Champion for the 6th Time

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Simone Biles is the most successful gymnast in the history of the sport. She won a record-extending sixth world title at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. She now has 37 medals at the World Championships and Olympics, the most any male or female gymnast has won in the sport’s history. 

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Antwerp World Championship

Ahead of the World Championships in Antwerp, Simone Biles produced an excellent performance at the U.S. Classic in Chicago, her first competition after returning to competitive gymnastics. 

In September, she joined Team USA for her first major international competition since her return. The most decorated American gymnast performed her routines like she wasn’t away. She won five medals: 

  • Two golds in the balance beams & floor exercises. 
  • Two in team competitions and all-rounds. 
  • Silver medal in the vault.

This raised her medal count at the World Championships to 30, making her the most decorated gymnast. Her sixth all-around medal is the most in the women’s competition. 

Reflecting on her performance, Biles said that after all the work she’d put in place to be comfortable, her performances meant everything.

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Yurchenko Double-Pike Vault Renamed Biles II

During the event, Biles completed the Yurchenko double-pike vault, considered one of the most challenging vaults in gymnastics. The American was the first woman to pull the routine off internationally and has since been renamed the Biles II. 

Natalie Yurchenko was the first gymnast to showcase the move during the 1983 World Championships in Budapest. 

After her epic performance, Biles coach Laurent Landi explained why many gymnasts shy away from the routine.

“It’s a challenging and dangerous vault. You do a short landing which can hurt your uncles. However, she’s shown everyone that even a female gymnast can do it,” Landi told CBS News.

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Routines Named After Biles

The Yurchenko double-Pike Vault, renamed Biles II, isn’t the only routine named after Simone Biles. According to USA Gymnastics, four other routines carry her name. 

Two-floor exercises: 

  • The double layout is half out.
  • The Triple-twisting double-tucked salto backwards.

Balance Beam:

  • Double-twisting, double-tucked salto backwards dismount.

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Simone Biles’ Gymnastics Journey

Simone Biles: The Talented African American and World Champion for the 6th Time
Simone Biles on the bars during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Source: Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Biles picked up gymnastics at the age of six, joined Bannon Gymnastics and got her first coach, Aimee Boorman, aged eight. In 2011, aged 14, she began pursuing a career in the sport. Biles dominated junior events, winning the balance beams and vault while taking third place in the all-rounds. 

The following year, the gymnast won the vaults and the all-round events in four competitions: 

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Elite Level Gymnast

When Simone Biles competed in the 2013 U.S. P&G Championship, she won the all-around events and became the first black woman to win a gold medal in this event. This was a moment of inspiration for young girls, she told The Hollywood Reporter

In 2014, her success continued, winning the vault, floor exercise, balance beams and all-around events. The following year, Biles won a third world title and by then, had won 10 gold medals. She booked her spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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2016 Rio Olympics

Simone Biles won four gold medals and joined an illustrious list of gymnasts who’ve won the same number of medals in a single Olympic Games. These are Larina Latynina in 1956, Vera Caslavska in 1968 and Ecaterina Szabo in 1984. 

Her medals came in the team events, all-around, vault and floor exercises. Biles’ scored 15.933 in the vault, 15,8 in the floor routine, and 15.3 on the balance beam. At the individual all-around, her winning margin of 2.1 was bigger than that of any gymnast between 1980 and 2012 combined.

Along with her teammates Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian, the Final Five, as they were known, became the third USA Gymnast team to win a gold medal after 2012 and 1996 teams. 

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Break and Return

After a successful 2016, Simone Biles took a break for a large part in 2017. That notwithstanding, she returned to top form in 2018, winning the gold medals at all her U.S Gymnastics Championships events.

In 2019, the American won her fifth World Championship gold in the individual all-around. At this point, her medal tally at the event was 25. 

Three years later, Simone Biles became the first woman to do the Yurchenko double pike routine in the U.S. Classic competition. She’s now performed the routine at the 2023 U.S Classic, U.S Gymnastics Championships and World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.  

2020 Olympics

Simone Biles shocked the gymnastics world when she pulled out of the event to focus on her mental health. Speaking to Teen Vogue in 2022, the gymnast said it “was her biggest win”. She also said that her mind and body weren’t synchronized and didn’t want to put Team USA’s chances of winning in jeopardy. She stayed away from competitive gymnastics for two years. 

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Competitive Return

In August 2023, Biles made a winning return to gymnastics at the U.S. Classic in Chicago. She won the all-around event with a score of 59.10. Afterwards, she said she was “feeling good physically and mentally.” She was also “surprised at how nice the event turned out for her.” 

With this win, Biles qualified for the Gymnastic World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, where she underscored her credentials as the most decorated gymnast in the history of the sport. 

Despite a successful return, Simone Biles has yet to reveal whether she’ll compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics. 

What more can we say about Simone Biles? It’s all in her performance. She’s arguably the greatest of all time in her sport. She’s done and won everything there is to win. 

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