Legendary Year of Biles wraps up

The Myanmar Times - - Olympics -

AMONG the gig­gly sis­ter­hood of the US women’s gym­nas­tics team, ev­ery­one agrees that to fin­ish sec­ond to Si­mone Biles is the same as fin­ish­ing first. “If you get sil­ver, you’re the best,” Aly Rais­man said with a laugh, “be­cause Si­mone doesn’t count!”

And that shared logic is how it came to be, on Au­gust 16 at Rio Olympic Arena, that the fi­nal day of Olympic gym­nas­tics com­pe­ti­tion pro­duced two vic­tors in the women’s floor ex­er­cise: Biles, 19, who claimed a fourth gold medal to go with the bronze she’d earned on the bal­ance beam the day be­fore, and Rais­man, 22, whose sil­ver rep­re­sented first­place in gym­nas­tics’ non-Biles di­vi­sion, bring­ing her medal haul to three.

“I’m in awe watch­ing her, and I’ve trained with her for so long,” Rais­man said of Biles af­ter the two stepped onto the medal podium and stood side by side, one last time, at these Sum­mer Games.

There was so much to be happy about. Biles, who’d wanted to be just like Rais­man as a younger gym­nast, got to share the cap­stone mo­ment of her Olympics de­but with her role model and US team cap­tain. It was the sec­ond time that they’d fin­ished onetwo here in Rio af­ter also tak­ing gold and sil­ver in last week’s in­di­vid­ual al­laround fi­nal.

Both earned their floor ex­er­cise medals with tour de force per­for­mances that were re­warded with the high­est marks they’d re­ceived at the Games – 15.966 for Biles and 15.500 for Rais­man. Bri­tain’s Amy Tin­kler was a dis­tant third (14.933).

“It’s pretty in­sane,” Biles said, eyes widen­ing when asked how she felt about win­ning four golds and a bronze in her five events. “What I’ve ac­com­plished in my first Olympics, I’m very proud of my­self. I don’t know. It’s crazy.”

Given the difficulty of their ac­ro­batic skills, Biles and Rais­man were favoured to sweep gold and sil­ver on the floor ex­er­cise. Biles is a three-time world cham­pion in her fa­vorite event; Rais­man, the 2012 Olympic cham­pion on floor.

Much was ex­pected from the US women’s gym­nas­tics team, which opened the Rio Olympics by clob­ber­ing its clos­est com­peti­tor, Rus­sia, by eight points to claim a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive team gold. With Biles lead­ing the way, it con­cluded the Games with nine medals – more than any US gym­nas­tics team in his­tory.

The US men, shut out of team hon­ours, col­lected three in­di­vid­ual medals.

With her tri­umph on floor ex­er­cise, Biles took her place along­side just four other fe­male gym­nasts to win four golds in a sin­gle Olympics. And with a huge smile, she hopped onto the medal podium for per­haps the last time at an Olympics.

At 19, there is so much of life she wants to ex­pe­ri­ence, hav­ing made the heart-rend­ing de­ci­sion at 14 to leave the pub­lic school she loved so she could train and com­pete like a cham­pion-in-the-mak­ing. She is not ex­pected to make her de­ci­sion about re­turn­ing for the 2020 Olympics for some time. If she de­cides against com­ing back, she could change her mind and re­claim her form, no doubt, with less than two years’ no­tice.

But on Au­gust 16, she didn’t want to think about the long-term fu­ture.

“First, we’re go­ing to have some fun!” Biles said. “We might get to do some mu­sic-awards shows, walk the red car­pet! We have a tour we’re all so ex­cited about. And Aly and I have said we’re go­ing to throw a huge pizza party once we land and watch the team fi­nals.”

Biles had floor ex­er­cise gold wrapped up on her sec­ond tum­bling pass, which in­cluded her sig­na­ture dou­ble flip with her body fully ex­tended. The scor­ing sheet de­clared her rou­tine the most dif­fi­cult staged, but Biles never let on, flip­ping through the air as if she were romp­ing in a moon bounce at a birth­day party, dar­ing her­self to fly higher each time.

She was in an or­bit all her own on Tues­day. And she took her fi­nal bow in Rio with noth­ing left to prove.

– The Wash­ing­ton Post

Photo: AFP

Simon Biles, who won four golds and a bronze at this year’s Games, has been vaunted as one of the great­est gym­nasts of all time. She is 19 years old.

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