Simone Biles’ performance on Thursday left no doubt that she’s the best gymnast of her generation.
Her performance, however, vaulted her way beyond the Rio Olympics. Some believe she is now the greatest gymnast of all time.
U.S. & World
There never seemed to be any doubt that the Rio Games belonged to Biles.
She completely dominated all of her competition. Take a look at all of the first-place finishes she racked up this week alone:
- Women’s floor exercise qualifier
- Women’s beam qualifier
- Women’s vault qualifier
- Women’s team all-around qualifier
- Women’s individual all-around qualifier
- Women’s team all-around final
- Women’s individual all-around final
The only event she competed in that she didn’t finish first was the women’s uneven bars, where she finished 14th.
But Biles has been dominating women’s gymnastics for the past four years.
Here’s a brief rundown of what was in the 19-year-old's trophy case before the Olympics even began:
- 14 total world championship medals (including all-around golds in 2013, 2014 and 2015
- 10 world championship gold medals (a record for most ever won by a female gymnast)
- Four consecutive all-around titles at the P&G Championship
Want more stats? Check these out:
Consider what 1984 all-around Olympic champion Mary Lou Retton said about Biles after she won the 2014 national title by a whopping 4.25 points: “She may be the most talented gymnast I’ve ever seen in my life, honestly. And I don’t even think she’s tapped into what she really can do. I think she’s unbeatable.”
And that was two years before she even made her Olympic debut.
Now, after completely dominating the Rio Games, some are saying she is the “GOAT,” or for those not familiar with internet acronyms, the "greatest of all time.”
Biles has earned extra points in Rio for doing exactly what she was supposed to do (i.e. dominate). If there was any pressure on her to win gold, she never let it show. Her precision was on point. Her poise was professional. And her smile never dimmed from start to finish.
She won the all-around gold by more than two whole points over teammate Aly Raisman. While that doesn’t sound like much to an average person, that’s a lot in a sport where championships often are determined by tenths of a point.
“It really comes down to execution,” said Jonathan Horton, a former Team USA gymnast and current NBC commentator. “If you were to put every single one of Simone Biles’ routines into super slow-mo, you could still barely find anything wrong.
“Aly is an amazing gymnast," Horton said, "but on her vault she bends her legs a little bit, she missed a few handstands on bars. You rarely get anything that you can take off of Simone’s routines, and that’s the reason she continues to dominate.”
Biles still has a chance to win three more gold medals in Rio in individual events. No female gymnast has ever won five golds in one Olympics. If she does -- and there is a good chance she will -- the "greatest" tag certainly would apply.
"She's certainly proven herself over the past three years that she's the greatest," her coach, Aimee Boorman, said. "Now she can say she's the greatest of all-time. So far."
Raisman knows what the rest of the field is up against.
"No one goes in thinking they can beat Simone," she said after winning the all-around silver. "Most people don't go in thinking they can beat Usain Bolt either, it's kind of the same thing."