“Are You Better Than…?”: Simone Biles Gave a Befitting Reply to a Fan Girl Challenging Her Dominance Against Fellow Gymnast Once

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Simone Biles started in the sport at age 6, joining Bannon’s Gymnastix, where she met her coach Aimee Boorman. Quickly, she caught up to her peers, who started training as toddlers. From the get-go, she showed enormous potential as a gymnast.

Biles made her elite senior division debut in 2013 and won the US National title and the World Championship all-around gold. When the 2016 Rio Olympics arrived, she had already established herself as the most dominant gymnast in the circuit.

Simone Biles had her skills challenged
A few months before the Rio Olympics, Simone Biles’ family’s neighborhood association auctioned off a meeting with her at its spring fund-raiser. Talking to the New Yorker, she recounted the experience when a fan questioned her dominance in the sport.

Simone Biles

“One of the girls was like, ‘I just need to ask you one question,’” Biles recalled. “‘Are you better than Gabby, or is Gabby better than you?’” The girl was referring to Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic champion, who had her eyes set on defending the title in Rio. “I’m like, ‘I beat her, O.K.?’” Biles continued.

Douglas is another African-American gymnast in a predominantly white sport, so the comparison is inevitable. It seems they’d confuse Biles for the veteran gymnast often too, as implied by their next remarks. “At least they’re not asking you if you are Gabby anymore,” Boorman said. “Oh, I still get that all the time,” Biles responded.

However, in terms of gymnastics skills, Biles remained heads and shoulders above her competition. The level of difficulty of her routines made her mathematically unbeatable. Even their styles differed vastly from one another, with Douglas excelling on the uneven bars that stand as Biles’ weakest discipline.

When the scoring system in gymnastics changed, it brought along an opportunity for gymnasts. Earlier, gymnasts were scored out of ten for their routines, which put a ceiling on the highest score attainable. But the new system, as described by the code of points, had the potential to change the game entirely.

Simone Biles

Here, the score for execution remained out of ten, but the difficulty score, ranked according to how hard it is to perform a certain skill, became open-ended. Evident from the four moves named after her, Simone Biles introduced a difficulty level of skill previously unheard of.

For instance, her double-twisting double somersault from the balance beam rated as the highest scoring dismount. Or the Yurchenko double pike vault, which carries a 6.6 difficulty score. Not to mention Biles’ triple-twisting double somersault on the floor exercise, which remains the hardest women’s gymnastics skill ever completed on the floor, and the only one with a J rating.

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