It’s not enough for the U.S. women to set the gold standard in gymnastics.
At the rate they’re piling up the bling, their collection is going to rival that of a royal family by the end of next summer’s Rio Olympics.
Simone Biles became the first woman to win three consecutive titles at the world championships Thursday. One step below her on the podium was Gabby Douglas, the first reigning Olympic champ to win a world medal since way back in 1981.
“It’s such an honor, especially coming from the United States,” said Biles, who matched Svetlana Khorkina for total all-around titles. “We strive for greatness.”
Safe to say they’ve got that covered.
The Americans, who two days earlier won their third consecutive team title, are so much better than the rest of the world that the best competition occurs back at the Karolyi Ranch, where the national team has monthly training camps. Get through those, and spots on the podium may as well be on reserve.
Biles is, of course, a huge part of that. The 18-year-old hasn’t lost a meet in 2½ years and is so dominant her teammates joke that gymnastics officials ought to create a division just for her. They’re not far wrong; even with mistakes on two events Thursday, she won by her largest margin yet.
But it’s the endless well of talent that keeps the Americans sharp. And makes for special scenes like the one where Douglas enveloped Biles in a hug when the final standings were posted, whispering congratulations in her ear.
“We’re done,” Biles said when asked what they said to each other. “We’re finally done, and I love you so much and good job.”
Well, not quite. The event finals are still to come this weekend, and both Biles and Douglas have chances to extend their gold rush.
Gymnastics is a brutal, grueling sport. As soon as someone ascends to the top of the podium, gravity and Father Time are there to knock them right back down. Only Biles, the first champion to repeat since Khorkina in 2003, and Vanessa Ferrari even managed to make it back onto the podium the next year.
But Biles makes defying those odds look easy. Each year, her skills get harder and better. Each year, she performs with more confidence and personality.
Each year, the gap between her and everyone else widens.
“She’s amazing,” Douglas said, shaking her head as she looked over at her friend and rival.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Nancy Armour