Simone Biles

Simone Biles has always been inspiring; her incredible talents and achievements in gymnastics have given her a status in sport that many athletes never reach. She flips, spins, and twists her body seemingly effortlessly, all while the rest of us can only dream of such poise and grace during competition. Add in the fact that she is an athlete of color, which opens the hearts of a diverse background who believe they can only dream of her successes. Biles continues, through efforts inside and outside of her sport, to make that dream appear in reach. You have to go back to 2021 to understand her influential year in 2023. As the pandemic pushed the Tokyo Olympics to 2021, we had to wait an extra year to see the return of Biles to artistic gymnastics (after an incredible finish at her first Olympics, in Rio in 2016). Once the competition began, she realized she wouldn’t be able to finish. To the surprise of most, she pulled herself out of all events except the balance beam (where she took home bronze). She cited her struggle with the twisties, a mental block while flipping, which is incredibly dangerous. Biles recognized this and took herself out of competition, but not without harsh criticism. With an American society that praises the win-at-all-costs mentality, this was greatly frowned upon from some. Others, however, took her actions as heroic and praised her for knowing her mind and body as well as not being “afraid” of what reaction her decision would elicit. The conversation deepened about mental health and its importance to the success of elite athletes. Biles inspired this movement which continues into 2024.
- Jackie Daly
FanSided Contributor

Why you should be paying attention next year

2024 is hopefully a big year for Biles. At 27 years old she is eyeing the Paris Olympics this summer. After almost two years away from the competition floor, in late 2023 she made a comeback. She won her eighth U.S. Championship in August and her sixth all-around title at World’s in October. With a busy international competition schedule from February to June for USA Gymnastics, those vying for a spot on the team that heads to Paris will have to leave it all out on the floor, which includes Biles. The competition is deep as Gabby Douglas has returned, Tokyo’s all-around gold medal winner Suni Lee is looking to repeat and other elite hopefuls are also looking for a spot. Will Biles head to Paris? She is a must watch up to (and hopefully including) the 2024 Olympics.

By the numbers

As the most decorated gymnast in history, Biles has 30 World Championship medals — 23 gold, four silver, and three bronze. She has seven Olympic medals — four gold, one silver, and two bronze (tied for most by a U.S. gymnast with Shannon Miller). She has countless U.S. Championship and U.S. Classic medals. After an unexpected 2021, she didn’t know if she would compete again. But she did. She made a miraculous comeback and her 2023 was capped off by winning the AP Female Athlete of the Year award for the third time. “Gymnastics is something that I do, and it's not who I am as a person and I think it took years to realise that. It's kind of nice to break out of that shell,“ Biles told