Exceptional gymnast Simone Biles: Six reasons that make her a role model

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Why is Simone Biles important for world gymnastics? Because she does gymnastics like no other. She is considered by many to be the greatest gymnast of all time. Why is Simone Biles famous? Because she performs elements that her competitors can't duplicate, is a multiple world champion and an Olympic winner as well as a s record holder in US-championships. All about Simone Biles as a great athletic role model - in the gym and beyond.

Simone Biles in flight on the balance beam at the 2016 Olympics.

Simone Biles and her records

Biles is at the top in all disciplines of apparatus gymnastics. She won her first world championship title at the age of 16 in Antwerp and was already the most successful participant in gymnastics world championships of all time before the 2020 Olympics. Simone Biles records count 19 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals. She is also the record champion at national US championships with seven times the all-around win.

Her weakest discipline is the uneven bars, but even there she is one of the favorites. After the postponement of the Olympic Games, Biles had pushed back the end of her career and the Olympics in Tokyo should be the culmination of her gymnastics career.



Simone Biles in record hunt in Tokyo:

Biles and her training recipe

Biles is 142 cm tall and weighs 47 kilograms. This gives her the ideal physique for gymnastics. She has about the muscle mass of larger opponents, but because of her smaller size she can make perfect use of leverage. She accelerates quicker than others in her preparation  of somersaults and jumps and can show more elements on the limited space of the mat during the routine. Still, her training recipe is simple and it's "practice, practice, practice." To be in top shape for the Tokyo Olympics and to make sure that every routine is spot on, she trains many hours a day.

Simone Biles shines at the Summer Olympics in Rio 2016

Elements named after Biles

When new elements are performed at international gymnastics competitions, they are also named after their inventor. Four different tricks already bear Simone Bile's name. Most recently, she performed two new elements at the World Championships in Stuttgart in 2019. Her "Triple-Double" on floor, a double somersault squat with integrated triple twist, is so hard to do that the difficulty scale of the international gymnastics federation FIG had to be expanded and a new letter "J" was introduced for this reason alone.

The Biles II, a double somersault with integrated triple twist, is so difficult that no gymnast except Biles performs it at international level.
Image credit:
Kyodo News/Imago

Described in words, the "triple-double" goes like this: Biles jumps off and does a double backflip in just over a second, while simultaneously spinning around herself three times. Officially, this trick is now called "Biles II" because she already did a double layout with a half twist and blind landing on the ground, which is called "Biles". In addition, two other elements are named after her: An element on the vault, a Yurchenko with half turn in the first flight phase and a stretched forward somersault with two screws,  as well as a double somersault backwards with an integrated double screw as an exit from the balance beam. Sounds complicated? It is, even for her opponents at the international top level, and even male gymnasts often cannot imitate what Biles does.

Biles was the first female gymnast to show a Yurtschenko with double somersault backward bent on the vault in Mai 2021. However, since she has not yet shown this at international competitions, it does not yet bear her name.

Simone Biles shows character

The floor is her favorite discipline in gymnastics, Biles says, because it offers the most opportunities to show personality in the freestyle. But she also shows character off the floor by standing up for herself and others. She uses her wide reach on social media to take a stand and highlight social injustice, such as in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Simone Biles also spoke out on an even more personal issue. In 2018, in the wake of the online #metoo movement and alongside other prominent gymnasts, she came forward about being sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the former physician of the US gymnastics team. Biles also later addressed the gymnastics federation's misconduct, describing her frustration with officials who were complicit and did not protect her or others affected by the abuse. After the FBI did not follow up on the first reports of abuse as prescribed and thereby allowing Nassar to continue to act for months, Simone Biles' courage in speaking out about her experiences, along with other prominent and non-celebrity gymnasts, helped to convict the guilty doctor. 

Simone Biles defies adversity

While it may seem that Simone Biles' victories on the international stage come naturally, she did not have an easy start in life. After her birth mother was unable to care for her children due to drug and alcohol abuse, Simone spent her childhood in foster care and was later taken in by her grandparents and adopted. At the age of six, her talent for gymnastics was recognized during a school trip, and from then on she trained regularly until her first world championship title followed at the age of 16. At her first Olympic Games in Rio she won four gold medals and one bronze.

Simone Biles at the medal ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro
Image credit:
Agência Brasil Fotografias/Wikimedia

Outreach to women and girls

Today, Biles uses her notoriety to inspire young people to work toward their goals. She is enrolled at the University of the People in business administration and is also involved in helping foster children gain access to education as a brand ambassador for the university.

Overall, she wants to encourage young girls and women in particular to pursue their athletic goals and be confident in their lives. This is now also reflected in her choice of sponsors, as Simone Biles has recently switched from Nike to Athleta, a sportswear brand for women. Together with Athleta, she wants to design products for young female athletes and get involved with Athleta's "Power of She Fund", which offers funding opportunities and various programs for girls and women to improve their lives through sports and also in the form of youth development.

After a Break, Simone Biles Ends Olympic Games with Bronze Medal

She was the bearer of hope for the Olympic Games in Tokyo: But right at the beginning of the competitions in Tokyo Simone Biles admitted: "I have mental problems." Reason for her public statement: In the gymnast's all-around competition, Biles left the hall after the first discipline. Her US colleagues and viewers in front of the TV feared for the 24-year-old. An injury? No! The record holder later admitted that she hadn't felt well and preferred to step back from the competition. In tears, Simone Biles said: "I don't feel as good as I did before, I'm more nervous when doing gymnastics and have less fun." Mental problems bothered her. The biggest fight she has to fight right now is the one with herself. That it comes to light at the Olympics, of all places, annoys her.

“I say mental health comes first. So sometimes it's okay to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself. It shows how strong you really are as a competitor and person instead of just fighting your way through, ”she emphasized at the subsequent press conference. She also canceled her individual final a few days later. Her mental health comes first.

After all, she returned for the balance beam competition. And impressively won the bronze medal, even if she left out some difficult elements. A grand finale for Biles, who had fought so hard to take part in the Olympics in recent years. Competing at the balance beam, she only did it for herself, emphasizes Biles: "It meant the world to me to go out there again".

Facts about Simone Biles

These amazing facts about Simone Biles make her one of the top sportsmen in the world and a role model. Her brilliant career should teach young sportsmen that not only records matter, but also physical and mental health, dignity and strength of mind.

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