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Opinion: Simone Biles follows Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt as Olympic icons

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INDIANAPOLIS – The notion of filling the void left by Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, of being the face of the Tokyo Olympics, it would be overwhelming if Simone Biles let herself think about it too much.

So she doesn’t.

Oh, she knows what’s coming. She remembers Phelps and Bolt being everywhere she looked in the months leading up to the Rio Games. Same before London. With both now retired, the Olympics needs a new icon and, as the world’s most dominant athlete these last four years — not just gymnast, mind you, athlete — Biles is the logical choice.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” Biles acknowledged Monday, as she and the rest of the women’s national team did interviews ahead of their first training camp of the Olympic year.

“But I ignore most of it. I don’t really watch a lot of TV. So I think anything I see comes up on social media or is sent to me,” she said. “I don’t know. I like to take it day by day. But it is weird and it’s kind of scary. But, ehhh. We’ll deal with it when it comes.”

Biles is already familiar with life in the fishbowl. Her size — she’s just 4-foot-8 — makes her immediately recognizable when she goes out. Her gravity-defying tricks have mesmerized people who can barely manage a cartwheel, and her willingness to own her greatness and use her voice on behalf of those who don’t have one have resonated with those who wouldn’t otherwise care about sports.

Simone Biles of USA poses with her five gold medals in the mixed zone after the women’s Apparatus Final. Daniel Kopatsch, EPA-EFE USA’s Simone Biles performs on the floor during the apparatus finals. Thomas Kienzle, AFP via Getty Images Oct. 13: First placed USA’s Simone Biles celebrates on the podium after the apparatus finals. LIONEL BONAVENTURE, AFP via Getty Images Oct. 13: Gold medalist Simone Biles of the United States performs on the balance beam in the women’s apparatus finals. Matthias Schrader, AP Oct. 13: USA’s Simone Biles performs on the beam during the apparatus finals. LIONEL BONAVENTURE, AFP via Getty Images Gold medal winner Simone Biles of the U.S., second-placed Xijing Tang of China, and third-placed Angelina Melnikova of Russia celebrate on the podium after the women’s all-around final at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Matthias Schrader, AP Simone Biles celebrates winning the gold medal in the women’s all-around final. LIONEL BONAVENTURE, AFP via Getty Images Simone Biles performs on the beam during the women’s all-around final. THOMAS KIENZLE, AFP via Getty Images Simone Biles performs on the vault during the women’s all-around final. LIONEL BONAVENTURE, AFP via Getty Images Oct. 8: Simone Biles performs on the balance beam during women’s team final at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Matthias Schrader, AP Oct. 8: Simone Biles celebrates with her coach after performing on the uneven bars. USA won the gold medal ahead of Russia (silver) and Italy (bronze). LIONEL BONAVENTURE, AFP via Getty Images Oct. 8: Simone Biles performs on the uneven bars during the women’s team finals on Day 5 of FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. Laurence Griffiths, Getty Images Oct. 8: Simone Biles performs on the uneven bars during the women’s team final. THOMAS KIENZLE, AFP via Getty Images Oct. 8: Simone Biles performs on the balance beam during women’s team final at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Matthias Schrader, AP Oct. 8: Simone Biles performs on the floor during the women’s team final. LIONEL BONAVENTURE, AFP via Getty Images Oct. 5: Simone Biles performs on the floor exercise beam during qualifying sessions for the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Matthias Schrader, AP Oct. 5: Simone Biles performs on the floor exercise during qualifying sessions for the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Matthias Schrader, AP Oct. 5: Simone Biles performs on the vault during the qualifying session at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Laurence Griffiths, Getty Images Oct. 5: Simone Biles performs on the balance beam during the qualifying session at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, southern Germany. Lionel Bonaventure, AFP via Getty Images Oct. 5: Simone Biles performs on the uneven Bars during the qualifying session of the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at Stuttgart, Germany. Laurence Griffiths, Getty Images Oct. 5: Simone Biles waits as her coach prepares the uneven bars during the qualifying session at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Matthias Schrader, AP Simone Biles takes part in a training session at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Thomas Kienzle, AFP/Getty Images Simone Biles gives a press conference prior to the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, on October 1. Thomas Kienzle, AFP/Getty Images

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But she has learned not to get caught up in others’ expectations — her own are high enough. And her performance at last year’s world championships reminded her that preparation is the surest way to quiet the nerves.

Throughout the competition, women from pretty much every country were wobbling and bobbling on balance beam. Falls and errors have a way of being contagious, particularly on an apparatus that is a mere 4 inches wide and stands 4 feet off the floor.

Biles won the world title on beam in 2014 and 2015, and was the favorite for gold on the event in Rio. But her foot slipped on the landing of a front tuck, and she had to grab the beam to keep from falling off. Though she still won the bronze medal, the error shook her confidence.

“I was pretty proud of my bronze medal, but I felt disappointed that I let a lot of people down because it wasn’t a gold,” Biles said. “It’s a weird feeling. Especially going through it.”

Another wobbly performance at the 2018 world championships, which also earned her a bronze, only deepened her angst.

But coach Cecile Landi reworked Biles’ routine and, with it, her self-confidence. With one hit routine after another in practice, the doubts faded. So much so that when Sunisa Lee fell off beam during team finals, where teams have to count all three scores on each event, the increased pressure didn’t faze Biles a bit.

Her 14.433 was the top score of the entire night on the event. She would go on to post the highest score on beam during the all-around final, and win the individual beam title.

“At worlds, before I went up, I knew I was going to hit a routine. That was a different feeling, that I’ve never had before,” Biles said. “Before I was like, ‘Eeesh, I don’t know how this is going to go.’ But at worlds, every routine I went up for, I knew there was no possibility of me falling. I was so consistent in training.”

Her beam title revived talk about Biles winning five gold medals in Tokyo, something no female gymnast has ever done. But Biles pushes that to the back of her mind, along with her looming status as a global superstar.

She didn’t come back following a one-year break after Rio to win medals or set records or become a global superstar. She did it to push boundaries and see what she was capable of.

“How mentally strong I am,” Biles said when asked how she is most different from four years ago. “Because in 2016, I thought I was pretty strong. But coming back — it’s not easy. You test yourself and your limits.”

There are plenty of athletes who dominate their sports. But those who make us rethink what is possible? Who remind us that the only thing exceeding the wonders of the human body are those of the human spirit?

They are rare, indeed. And Biles is every bit deserving of being in their company.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

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Rio 2016 – Day 4: Michael Phelps and Simone Biles take centre stage

Date 09 Aug 2017 Tags RIO 2016 , Olympic News

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Olympic.org takes a look back at the highlights from the fourth day of competition in Rio on Tuesday 9 August 2016. Michael Phelps won two more gold medals in the space of an hour, in the 200m butterfly and the 4x200m freestyle, bringing his total medal haul to 22. The brilliant Simone Biles lit up the women’s team competition to help the United States to victory.

And then there were 20, then 21: the legend Phelps at the height of his powers

It was an evening of giants at the Olympic aquatics centre in Barra da Tijuca, starting with the biggest: Michael Phelps. In one hour, the most decorated Olympian of all time won his 20th and 21st gold medals. First, he reclaimed the 200m butterfly title that that had been taken from him by the South African Chad le Clos in London in 2012. With a superb winning time of 1:53.36, he beat Masato Sakai from Japan by 0.041 seconds, while Le Clos finished in fourth place, outside the medal positions. Phelps, who won this event in 2004 and 2008 and came second in 2012, became the first swimmer to step onto the podium four times for the same individual race at the Games. But it was about to get even better, as Phelps took gold again – this time in the 4x200m freestyle relay event. As the final relay swimmer after Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas and Ryan Lochte, he brought home the victory for the US team, which won by some distance in a time of 7:00.66, ahead of Great Britain and Japan. Phelps immediately received a deserved ovation from the crowd at the Olympic pool. Having climbed out the water, he sat down on his starting block – exhausted but content. And aware that he had become, in the space of an hour, one of the heroes of the Rio Games.

Katie Ledecky and Katinka Hosszu, however, were not to be outdone. The American claimed victory in the 200m freestyle, 48 hours after winning the 400m. With a time of 1:53.73, she beat off competition from Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström (1:54.08) and Australia’s Emma McKeon (1:54.92). “I’m pretty sure that’s the closest I’ve come to throwing up in the middle of a race,” said Ledecky, who had to dig deep to clinch victory. Hungary’s “Iron Lady”, meanwhile, claimed her third gold medal in Rio. Following the 400m medley and the 100m backstroke, Hosszu won the 200m medley with a new Olympic record of 2:06.58. “Three gold medals! Incredible!” she exclaimed.

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Simone Biles and Team USA reaching for the stars

Having already shone in the gymnastics competitions at the Olympic Arena, the five members of the US women’s team (Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman) ensured that there was no chance of suspense in the women’s artistic team all-around competition. They got themselves ahead right from the start, in the vault, and continued to increase their lead. Biles received the highest scores in the vault (15.933), the beam (15.300) and the floor exercise (15.800). Kocian and Douglas were the most outstanding performers on the uneven bars (15.933 and 15.766 respectively). Finally, good friends Biles and Raisman performed, in turn, magnificent routines in the floor exercise. Biles dazzled spectators and judges alike with her incredible poise, flexibility, energy and artfulness, in a display set to Brazilian music, and ended up with a score of 15.800! Ultimately, the “Final Five”, as the US team nicknamed themselves, carved out a lead of more than eight points (8.209) over the Russians, who took silver ahead of China.

Three days on horseback and first gold medals in Rio for France and Germany

The individual and team equestrian eventing competitions concluded in Deodoro on 9 August with the two jumping courses. Ultimately, the French quartet of Astier Nicolas (Piaf de B’Neville), Karim Laghouag (Entebbe), Thibaut Vallette (Qing du Briot) and Mathieu Lemoine (Bart L) claimed victory ahead of Germany and Australia. Nicolas and Germany’s Michael Jung (double Olympic champion in London in 2012 with Sam, who he was again competing with in Rio) battled it out for individual gold in the jumping final. Jung produced a faultless performance, while Nicolas knocked down one bar. And so, after three days of competition, Nicolas took home one gold medal and one silver, and Jung won one silver and one gold! These victories gave France and Germany their first gold medals at the 2016 Games.

A whole host of ippons on the Carioca Arena tatami with Tina Trstenjak and Khasan Khalmurzaev

The final of the women’s -63kg lasted 1 minute 45 seconds. That was when Slovenian judoka Tina Trstenjak threw her French opponent, Clarisse Agbegnenou, to the floor and kept her pinned down to achieve the ippon. It was Trstenjak’s third consecutive ippon in the competition after the quarter-final and semi-final. “I didn’t make the best of starts, but things just got better and better, and it went perfectly in the last fight!” she said. The final of the men’s -81kg ended after 2 minutes 45 seconds, when, countering a move by his American opponent Travis Stevens, Russia’s Khasan Khalmurzaev threw him to the mat with a textbook uchi-mata. An ippon and a classy victory for the 22-year-old reigning European champion, who said that he was “happy for the people of Russia”.

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In the canoe slalom, Denis Gargaud Chanut succeeds Tony Estanguet

With a flawless run on the churning white-water course in Deodoro, France’s Denis Gargaud Chanut secured the quickest time to become Olympic champion, succeeding his compatriot, the three-time champion (2000, 2004 and 2012) and IOC member Tony Estanguet, who presented Gargaud Chanut with his gold medal. Gargaud Chanut narrowly beat Slovakia’s Matej Benus by 0.85 seconds, but was not troubled by his other rivals, with Japan’s Takuya Haneda more than three seconds behind in third place. “At the bottom of the run I was on fire!” said the new champion.

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Chinese festival continues in the diving with Chen Ruolin and Liu Huixia

Having done the high diving double twice (individual and synchronised in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012), Chen Ruolin added to her gold medal haul with a fifth title. Together with 18-year-old Liu Huixia – making this the third time she had won gold with a different partner, following her victories in the synchronised 10m platform at the two previous editions of the Games – Chen clinched the victory, managing to hold off the Malaysian team of Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong, whose inspired performance saw them take silver. Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, bronze medallists in London in 2012, obtained the same result in Rio. Chen was full of praise for her partner at the Carioca Games: “I think that she is doing very well, especially since these are her first Games! It’s normal for her to be nervous, but she still did very well.”

A first for South Korea as Park Sang-young wins the épée

He dreamt at night about doing it, and he actually went on to do it! Park Sang-young had to move mountains to become the first fencer from the Republic of Korea to win the épée event at the Games, and overcame his biggest obstacle in the final – veteran Hungarian Géza Imre, who won his first Olympic medal in Atlanta in 1996. The reigning world champion, 41, stormed into the lead and was one touch from victory at 14-11. But Park scored five points in a row to win 15-14. “Imre is very experienced and very flexible when competing but I had speed on my side. And it was with speed that I decided to enter this match and tried to win that way,” said a delighted Park. Bronze was won by France’s Gauthier Grumier.

Anna Korakaki – all the gold in Greece

Greece’s Anna Korakaki was crowned Olympic champion in the 25m pistol, beating Germany’s Monika Karsch 8-6 and winning her country’s first gold medal since the Athens Games in 2004. Korakaki, 20, claimed her second medal in Rio, after taking bronze in the 10m air pistol. At the shooting centre in Deodoro, Switzerland’s Heidi Diethelm Gerber won the bronze medal after coming out on top against China’s Zhang Jingjing (8-4) in the third-place match. The champion from Greece managed to hold her nerve throughout the competition, particularly in the final against Karsch, when the German drew level to make it 6-6 and everything came down to the final five shots.

Chinese weightlifters scoop double gold and records tumble in the women’s 63kg

The weightlifters from the People’s Republic of China won their second and third gold medals at the Riocentro Pavilion 2: Deng Wei in the women’s -63 kg – setting a new world record for good measure – and Shi Zhiyong in the men’s -69kg category, taking the title won by his namesake in 2004 in Athens! Deng achieved an Olympic record in the snatch (115kg) and then world records in the clean-and-jerk (147kg) and the total (262kg). Performances that were very much needed to beat the young weightlifter from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Choe Hyo-sim, who finished on 248kg. Shi lifted 352kg, one kilogram more than Turkey’s Daniyar Ismayilov.

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Elsewhere… Bye-bye Serena Williams, hello Fiji!

Fresh from her victory at Wimbledon, where she equalled Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles, reigning Olympic champion and world number one Serena Williams failed to make it past the third round in Rio. She was eliminated by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in two sets (6-4, 6-3) having already lost in the first round of the women’s doubles with her sister Venus. At the same time, in Deodoro, the rugby wizards from Fiji got going in style in the men’s rugby sevens tournament, with victories over Brazil (40-12) and Argentina (21-14). The first round of the women’s football reached its conclusion, with Brazil, Australia, the USA, Sweden, Canada, France, China and Germany making the quarter-finals.

Getty Images Tags RIO 2016 , Olympic News

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Let the argument begin.

Let’s start it by awarding medals for the most outstanding athlete of the Summer Olympics.

Gold: Simone Biles

Silver: Michael Phelps

Bronze: Usain Bolt

Biles stands 4 feet, 8 inches tall. But this American gymnast towers above all other Olympic superheroes at Rio 2016.

Disagree? Go build your own podium.

The goose-bump moment of the Games crawled up my arms Tuesday and kissed the back of my neck, when Biles was at her signature best.

Biles at her best is better than any other athlete in the world. More ego-crushing dominant to foes than Bolt is on the track. More no-way-that-just-happened mesmerizing than Phelps is in the pool.

“I don’t even consider myself competing against her. It’s like she’s at another level. I’m in awe watching her,” said U.S. teammate Aly Raisman, who finished second in the floor exercise to Biles. Raisman scored 15.500, destroying everybody in the field, except for Biles, who scored an untouchable 15.966.

A for-the-ages moment happened with Biles tumbling across the mat. It beats me why they call it the floor exercise, because as U.S. team coordinator Martha Karoyli said, when Biles does her routine, she “lives in the sky.”

The move that thrills is called the Biles, because nobody else in the world is athletic enough, crazy enough and confident enough to pull it off.

Her signature move starts with a backward, blind takeoff. Then it gets interesting. Defying gravity in a way Michael Jordan never imagined, Biles somersaults twice, head over heels, in a Superman pose. At the end of the second somersault, she does a half turn before landing, producing more torque than Tiger Woods ever did with his golf swing. When touching down on terra firma, Biles celebrates by leaping like Bambi for joy.

Steeped in tradition, the Olympics still refers to the sport as artistic gymnastics. It sounds very ladylike. But Biles’ art is extreme sport set to show tunes. It’s Broadway without gravity.

I know chauvinists will kill me: How can a pixie possibly be the world’s greatest athlete?

“I don’t rank myself. That would be weird,” Biles said.

I’ve got nothing against Bolt. He has been the world’s fastest human longer than dinosaurs roamed the earth. When he stepped into the blocks Sunday night for the 100-meter finals, I was sipping a caipiroska in a seaside restaurant. Waiters stopped serving carpaccio. Cooks left the kitchen. Diners stood, staring at the television. After Bolt won gold in a time of 9.81 seconds, he congratulated himself, by declaring: “Somebody said I can be immortal.”

Bolt is already immortal. But, in 2016, he ain’t what he used to be. Biles is at the top of her game.

We all have watched Phelps grow up at the Olympics. For years, at Games from Athens to Beijing, he was an overgrown boy in a bubble. In the pool, Phelps had no peer. Outside the pool, he was a fish out of water. After winning gold five more times at age 31, Phelps is a man in full. He’s sober. He’s a dad. He’s not afraid to cry.

Before the Games began, USA swimming teammate Ryan Lochte predicted this would not be Phelps’ valediction as an Olympian.

“I honestly don’t think this is going to be his last Olympics,” Lochte claimed, as I chuckled. “I’m saying he’s going to come back again.”

I once was 100 percent convinced Jesse Owens, running in defiance of Adolf Hitler, was the greatest Olympian of all time. Now I’m not so certain. As a career achievement, Phelps’ 28 medals shout his case.

Right here, right now, however, Biles is a more intimidating force in her sport than Broncos linebacker Von Miller shedding a blocker and steamrolling toward a quarterback sack. And gymnastics is a full-contact sport. Every body in the game takes a pounding.

“The pain exists. It’s a matter of managing the pain,” U.S. gymnastics coach Mihai Brestyan said. “In swimming, all you are doing is coaching the wall.”

No contemporary can touch Biles. She competes only against legends.

“Simone Biles is definitely is the biggest talent for today. In 1976, Nadia Comaneci was the biggest talent. But that was in a different era,” said Karoyli, whose involvement in the sport spans the generation that separates Comaneci and Biles.

“They are both ahead of their time. They are on top of their time. … The other similarity is extraordinary mental toughness, extraordinary confidence level, which made them not be afraid in these big arenas. In front of all those judges and in front of all those competitors, (Biles and Comaneci) come in and say: ‘I have this under my belt.’ ”

Comaneci was a perfect 10. Forty years ago, gymnastics were artistic. Now, gymnasts are astronauts.

Biles is proof that even perfect can evolve into something more amazing.

Simone Biles cemented her place in Olympics history with one incredible quote

Simone Biles is widely regarded as the best gymnast in history — male or female. Yet, even after winning the gold medal at Thursday’s individual all around final in Rio de Janeiro, Biles keeps on getting compared to male athletes.

And she would like you to know she’s having none of that, thanks.

Biles decided to clear the air during an interview following her gold medal win, Jezebel reported. The athlete’s stunning performances during the 2016 Summer Olympics have put her in a league of her own. And not only does Biles know this, but she’s not afraid to say it.

“I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles,” the gymnast told Sporting News.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Biles is the fourth American in a row to take home the individual all-around gold during the summer Olympics, following Gabrielle Douglas in 2012, Nastia Liukin in 2008, and Carly Patterson in 2004.

But unlike these other athletes, who are also incredibly talented, Biles’ skills are history-making. Biles already has a move named after her (appropriately called “The Biles”), and her near-perfect performances have blown everyone away.

So yes, while Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps are also phenomenal athletes, Biles is sick of the comparison. She isn’t the next or female version of any male athlete; she’s the first Simone Biles.

The legend of Simone Biles continues to grow

Date 29 Oct 2019 Tags Olympic News, Tokyo 2020, On the road to Tokyo, Artistic Gymnastics, United States of America Tokyo 2020

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Not for the first time, Simone Biles has lit up the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. In Stuttgart, she claimed another five world titles to surpass the overall World Championship medal record, men and women combined. Winner of four Olympic golds at Rio 2016, the 22-year-old American now has Tokyo 2020 in her sights. She will be among the most hotly anticipated stars at the Games, where she is looking to add to her gold medal haul in the all-around and apparatus events.

Twenty-five World Championship medals, 19 of which are gold, with five titles won at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart in October (team all-around, individual all-around, vault, balance beam and floor): at the age of just 22, Simone Biles is the most decorated artistic gymnast of all time, men and women combined, having beaten the record held since 1996 by Soviet-turned-Belarussian gymnast Vitaly Scherbo, who has 23 medals and 12 golds to his name. Biles, born on 14 March 1997 in Columbus (Ohio), achieved her feat over five World Championship editions starting in 2013, but her five victories in Stuttgart represented her best gold medal haul in 10 days of competition.

feeling GOLDEN this morning
5X WORLD ALL AROUND CHAMPION
everytime feels just like the first pic.twitter.com/CnINDGSQNE

— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) 11 October 2019

After “the Biles”, “the Biles II”!

And that’s not all: the four-time Olympic champion performed new skills that now bear her name: the spectacular “triple-double” (three twists with two flips) in the floor event and the incredible “double-double” (two twists, two flips) on the beam dismount. Given that she already had signature moves named after her, in the floor and vault events, the triple-double will be called the “Biles II”! “I feel like putting my name on a skill is really rewarding, just because it’ll be in the code forever,” she said.

Introducing the 𝐁𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐈𝐈. #Stuttgart2019 | @Simone_Biles pic.twitter.com/AYIDZwCmAJ

— Team USA (@TeamUSA) October 5, 2019

“Last year was kind of tragic. Definitely wasn’t my best performance but, you know, you live and you learn, and I feel like today, going out there, I didn’t want to do that again,” she said after her record-breaking fifth individual all-around title on 10 October. “I feel like it’s not me. Sometimes I wonder how I do it. I wish I could have an out-of-body experience to witness it, because sometimes I think I’m going crazy. I really don’t know how I do it sometimes.”

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The surprising thing about the year that Biles, now officially the greatest gymnast of all time, refers to as “tragic” is that, at the Doha 2018 World Championships, where she was suffering from a kidney stone, she still managed to win the individual and team all-around, the vault and the floor, although she finished third in the balance beam. It’s clear, however, that she has widened the gap with her rivals: in the floor event in Stuttgart, for example, she beat her young compatriot Sunisa Lee, who took silver, by a whole point (15.133 vs 14.133).

From Rio 2016 to Tokyo 2020

Biles was one of the stars of the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Aged 19, she lit up the artistic gymnastics competitions, wowing the crowds present in Rio, and spectators watching on TV all over the world, by winning four gold medals. But an uncharacteristic error – an unexpected slip – cost her the title in the balance beam event; she had to settle for bronze, with Dutch gymnast Sanne Wevers taking gold. But Biles finished her tournament with a near-perfect performance in the floor event, earning a score of 15,966 thanks to a samba-influenced routine that showcased her power, agility and creativity. “My first Olympics and I’ve walked away with five medals: that’s not disappointing at all,“ she said afterwards. “It shows dreams can come true. I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps: I’m the first Simone Biles.”

After the Games, she took a year out from sport in 2017, before resuming her career the following year, with Tokyo 2020 firmly in her sights and now working with two new coaches, Laurent and Cécile Landi from France. And the rest is history. “Obviously Cécile and Laurent do a really good job at pushing me in the gym to do upgrades,” explained Biles. “Not only because I’m ahead, but just for myself and to see what I can do and see how far I can push myself and what I can put out there. Because a lot of the skills were kind of unimaginable, but then we turned them into doing them for real. So that was pretty crazy.”

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Next year in the Japanese capital, it will be Biles’ time to shine once again. “Going into the Olympics, I will be one of the biggest household names, but I never really think about it,” she said. “I just try to go in there and do what I came to do, do my job. But it will be kind of crazy that I’ll be one of the biggest names out there. I feel like, for me, my accomplishments, I feel like it’s just going out there and hitting my routines the way I’m capable of. And then I’m pretty happy.”

Biles has stated that she will be retiring from gymnastics after the Tokyo Games. But in the meantime, she will be giving it her all in training to be at her dazzling best next year. She is not necessarily intending to come up with new skills, but rather to “solidify” her existing, and extraordinary, routines. “Right now, we’re kind of solidifying the routines,” she said. “Obviously, we do want to bring back the Biles on vault, but probably, next year, we will train it a lot more than we did this year, focusing on a pretty good Cheng . And then we’ll see.”

The Tokyo Games will provide Biles with the opportunity to add to her legend, and permanently etch her name into the gymnastics and sporting history books.

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She’s her own woman (Picture: Getty Images)

If you needed any more of a reason to love Simone Biles, here it is.

The absolutely incredibly gymnast, who collected her second gold medal last night in the women’s all around competition, has been widely compared to male Olympic superstars Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.

Responding to the comparison, the superstar said: ‘I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.’

Bow down in the presence of greatness, people.

Simone Biles is a hero (Picture: REX/)

The unbeatable 19-year-old, who had already led the USA to team victory earlier in the week, beat her fellow US competitor Alexandra Raisman by more than two points. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina came in third.

10 inspiring stories from Olympians who overcame adversity for Rio 2016

But the winning isn’t over for Biles. She’s expected to obliterate her competition in three of next week’s apparatus finals.

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She said: ‘I’m very excited and relieved because I’ve finally done it. You never know that feeling until it hits you. It’s amazing to be recognised for all of this success.

‘I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.

‘I’m just the same Simone. I just have two Olympic gold medals now. I feel like I did my job tonight.’

Bow down (Picture: Getty Images)

Simone is a huge inspiration, coming from humble beginnings to become one of the biggest gymnastics stars of our time.

When she was just five she was taken into care, as her biological mother struggled with severe substance abuse.

After living in a foster home in Ohio she was adopted by her parents – who are her biological grandparents – and it was under their care that she flourished.

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Michael phelps and simone biles

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