With two sublime new skills, Simone Biles sets the standard in her sport

Photo : www.gymnastics.sport
www.gymnastics.sport|22-Aug-2019 15:11

Simone Biles has done it again: ten months after wowing the world with a never-before-seen vault, the four time world All-around champion arrived at last week’s U.S. Championships in Kansas City, Missouri, with two brand new skills in her arsenal, both of which are likely to bear her name in the women’s code of points come fall.

The first, a triple twisting double tuck on Floor Exercise, has never been performed by a woman. Named in the men’s code for the Democratic Republic of Korea’s Ri Jong Song, who competed it at the 2004 Olympic Games, the triple double was not on any woman’s radar before Biles posted a “spring training” video of her doing it at World Champions Centre, her home base gym in Texas.

But Biles had more in store: in the training session in Kansas City days before she captured her sixth U.S. title, she stunned spectators by dropping a double twisting double tuck dismount off the balance beam, an element so tricky that before Biles did it in the flesh it existed only in Gymnastics fans’ imagination.

The ensemble of Biles’s programme is so difficult it has Olympic champions, including Nadia Comaneci and Nastia Liukin, shaking their heads with a mixture of admiration and disbelief.

“Nobody’s even close,” Comaneci told the Olympic Channel, assessing Biles compared to the rest of the world.

In order to have either new element officially named for her, Biles will need to complete it successfully without major errors at either a FIG World Cup event, World Championships or Olympic Games. The 22-year-old has indicated that October’s World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, will be her next major international competition.

Inside Stuttgart’s Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle between October 4 and 13, Biles is likely to have four chances to do both skills and ink her name in the code of points again: in the women’s team and individual event qualification October 5, the team final October 8, the individual All-around final October 10 and the second day of individual apparatus finals October 13.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist already has two elements named after her in the code of points: a double layout with a half twist at the end on Floor, which was named for her in 2013, and her ubiquitous vault, a roundoff, half on, front layout with two twists off, which she performed at last October’s Worlds in Doha, Qatar.

As the 22-year-old Texan continues to push the sport forward with her groundbreaking difficulty, she will be chasing history for herself in Stuttgart. A fifth world All-around title would lengthen a legacy that already includes so many firsts and mosts: no other woman owns more than three other world All-around gold medals, and with her 14 golds accumulated over four world championships, Biles stands alone as the gymnast to have mined the most gold in Worlds history.

Still left to accomplish? Only one more medal would give her the record for the most world medals held by a female, surpassing Russian Svetlana Khorkina, who won 20 between 1994 and 2003. Another four and Biles will have more than anyone ever, even Vitaly Scherbo, who won 23 during the 1980s and 1990s while representing the USSR, the Unified Team, and Belarus.

Then there is next summer’s Olympic Games, where Biles has a good chance to become the first female gymnast since the great Vera Caslavska to win back-to-back Olympic titles. Czechslovakian great Caslavska did it in 1964 and 1968.

Not that Biles is counting her chickens before they have hatched -- nor records before she has set them. “I never think about the records,” she told the Olympic Channel. “I honestly don’t know that I’m breaking a record until someone brings it up to me.”