Any doubt that Simone Biles is one of the greatest athletes of all time was laid to rest at the 49th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. The 22-year-old dominated the competition, which took place from October 4 to October 13, 2019, winning gold in five of her six events. Biles' career total of 25 medals, 19 of which are gold, now exceed Belarus gymnast Vitaly Scherbo's 23 medals, making Biles the most decorated gymnast — male or female — at the World Championships.
“Every year, it feels better and better just because we’re adding to the legacy,” Biles said. “I feel like I never think of records. I just go out there and do what I came to do, which is compete for the country.”
Biles' winning streak began on Tuesday, October 8, when she helped the American women's gymnastics team take home their fifth consecutive world championship title, tying a record set by Romania from 1994 to 2001. “It means the world to me,” Biles later said. “For my fifth, that’s kind of unheard of, so it was really exciting. But we finished strong, and we gave it our all. It’s super exciting that we had the opportunity to do this.”
With her 21st medal at the World Championships — the most for a female gymnast — secured, Biles turned her attention to the all-around title, which she has dominated since 2013. On Thursday, October 10, the young gymnast outperformed 23 competitors in four disciplines to become the first and only woman to win five all-around world titles. With a combined score of 58.999, Biles outscored silver medalist Tang Xijing of China by an astounding 2.1 points.
The amazing gymnast continued to dominate in the individual events. On Saturday, October 12, Biles won the vault by more than half a point averaging 15.399 for her two attempts. On Sunday, October 13, she outpaced fellow US gymnast Sunisa Lee by a full point, in the floor routine, and her balance beam score of15.066 was six-tenths of a point ahead of silver medalist Liu Tingting of China. The only event Biles failed to medal in was the uneven bars in which she placed fifth.
Biles' wins are even more incredible because of her increasingly intricate and complicated routines. Her double-twist somersault on the balance beam during the 2019 US Championships in August was so difficult that the Women's Technical Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) did not give the athlete the extra credit it deserved. The committee argued that doing so would encourage inexperienced gymnasts to attempt it, leading to serious injuries.
Given the low score, the gymnast decided not to incorporate the move — dubbed Biles in her honor — to her balance beam routine at the Stuttgart World Championships. However, she did introduce a never-before-done triple twisting double somersault to her floor exercise. Now called Biles II, it is the fourth skill named after her— two on floor and one each on beam and vault!
When asked how she continues to perform at these unprecedented levels, Biles said, "I really don't know how I do it sometimes. Sometimes I wonder how I do it. I feel like it's just like not me. I wish I could have an out-of-body experience to witness it because sometimes I think I'm going crazy."
Resources: CNN.com, NPR.org, Guardian.com