For the past month I’ve been watching videos of Simone Biles on my phone. I first heard of her two years ago, when there were rumors she could surpass Gabby Douglas as Rio 2016’s gymnastics champion. But it was a May 30 New Yorker article that put how incredible she is into context.
“Seeing Biles next to her competition at Pacific Rims, I felt as if Isaac Newton had written a different set of laws on her behalf. She flew higher, spun faster, and landed more firmly than anyone else. As I watched a group of gymnasts from New Zealand, whose every action looked pained, I was reminded of the physical awkwardness of being a teen-ager, but Biles moved from apparatus to apparatus like a shark in open water. In Everett, several people compared Biles to Michael Jordan, for her ability to escape gravity; and to Michael Phelps, for the perfect match of her body to her sport; and to Serena Williams, for her total dominance.”
And Biles is already a history-making gymnast. According to Teen Vogue;
“She’s the only female gymnast to take home all-around gold at the prestigious World Gymnastics Championships three years in a row, her 10 golds there are the most of any female gymnast in history, and her 14 medals overall are the most of any American. Mary Lou Retton, the first American woman to take an all-around individual gold at an Olympics, has described Simone as being “in a class all by herself.”
But Gabby Douglas is still a force to be reckoned with. In March 2016 she won the American Cup, the country’s most prestigious gymnastics competition, and she is looking to make her mark at the Olympics again this year. She is one of just six American women to compete in back-to-back gymnastics Olympics, and still receives deserved acclaim for her history-making run at the London 2012 games, where she was “the first African American woman in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion… the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics [and] the only American all-around champion to win multiple gold medals in a single Olympic Games.”
Both women cover Teen Vogue’s August issue and exude beauty and strength in an incredible photo series.