The GOAT: Simone Biles

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Fernando Frazão & Agência Brasil

Simone Biles is an American gymnast. With a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, Biles is tied as the most decorated gymnast of all time.

Gymnast Simone Biles has made history since she started her career, testing her limit every time she steps onto the mat. She has a total of 32 Olympic and world medals. Seven of those medals are Olympic; with four gold, one silver and two bronze. 

A native Texan, Biles’ rise to fame didn’t begin with the 2016 Olympics; while she gained global recognition during her first Olympics, the athlete was already a recognized phenomenon in the gymnastics world, as she held the title of highest medal count in the 2015 World Championships. 

At 4 feet  8 inches, Biles is a force to be reckoned with. She began her career at the age of 6, was on the United States Junior National Team in 2012 and by 2013 she already had a move named after her — “the Biles” — with three more to follow in the coming years. The Women’s Sports Foundation named her Sportswoman of the Year in 2016, and she went on to win the ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete and the ESPN The Magazine award for Most Dominant Athlete. By 2021, she became the first to perform a Yurchenko double pike vault at the U.S. Classic, winning yet another all-around title.

For the past five years, Biles has been the face of the USA Gymnastics Olympic team. She has faced her fair share of adversity, but she has overcome each one with more beauty and grace than anyone could ever muster. She has stood up for herself despite knowing she could be hurt and knowing that her mental health was not in a good place. 

Biles has displayed unimaginable bravery in a time when athletes are finally able to stand up for themselves. By withdrawing from individual all-around finals at the 2021 Olympics, Biles has demonstrated that courage entails not only facing fans, television, and the vault and floor, but also prioritizing mental health.

Biles has also demonstrated bravery by testifying before Congress about the abuse she and fellow gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols endured at the hands of Larry Nassar. Their testimonies were prompted by the FBI’s failure to report a formal file from 2015 that contained interviews with young girls and women abused by Nassar. The gymnasts all suffered incidents of sexual assault and noted how they were failed by a system that protects abusers while allowing elite athletes to be abused.

Simone Biles has never shied away from making history: She has been in the spotlight long enough to showcase her strength on the vault or floor and has made her mark on the world. In addition, she has become an advocate for mental health, women empowerment, equality and social justice. Biles has signed with Athleta, a clothing brand that encourages women to feel their best when working out, and she has been a voice for young women, especially young black women who have never had the chance to see themselves represented. Biles will continue to empower even when she is no longer part of the Olympics and gymnastics world.