Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
When our feature this week was only six-years old according to her personal bio, she went on a field trip to Banner’s Gymnastix in Houston, Texas.
This YG&B talent was described as having so much fun and started imitating other gymnast working out in the back of the gym.
Ms. Ronnie saw her superbly mimicking the forms with such stylistic flair and informed one of the gym’s lead coaches, Coach Aimee. A letter was sent home to her parents thus beginning her enrollment in recreational gymnastic classes. And as her bio concluded, “The rest is history.”
She is young, gifted and Black. American artistic gymnast Simone Arianne Biles is a 2013-2014 two-time World All-Around Champion; a 2013-2014 World Beam Champion, and a member of the gold medal winning U.S. team at the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship held recently in Nanning, China October 3 through 12.
Simone is additionally a two-time U.S. National All-Around Champion (2013-2014), the first African American to be World All-Around Champion and the most career gold medal holder by a U.S. woman thereby surpassing the career five held by gold medalist Shannon Miller in 1993-94.
Cites Dvora Meyers in the October 23, 2014 posting of espnW.com, our 17-year-old was also named “Sportswoman of the Year” by the Women Sports Federation shortly upon returning from China.
“Not bad for a young woman who has not yet graduated from high school,” says Meyers.
Her four medals are victored in the categories of Team, All-Around, Balance Beam, and Floor Finals.
The espnW.com account positions that in floor exercises, “Biles in unmatched when it comes to height, power, and execution. No one does a double-twisting double somersault better, not even any of the men.”
In a training video posted by her coach, Aimee Boorman writes Meyers, Simone is seen performing, “one of the most difficult tumbling passes you can do on the floor – a double-twisting double summersault – off the edge of the balance beam. Yes, you read it right!”
Simone was born March 14, 1997. Published reports note that her mother at the time was unable to care for her and her siblings. Simone’s grandparents, Ronald and Nellie Biles, then adopted Simone and her sister Adria.
She is a homeschooled high school senior and will graduate in 2015. The Columbus, Ohio native has verbally committed to UCLA as her college of choice, but will defer enrollment until after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
Simone was selected for the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team on September 17, 2014 in anticipation for the Nanning, China competition.
On October 6, she admirably assisted the USA team to qualify for the Nanning finals on Wednesday, October 8. USA in this event placed first ahead of China and Russia in the vault, balance beam and floor exercises.
The 4 foot, 9 inch competitor then additionally qualified for four individual finals and was positioned first place in the all-around with a 59.599 scoring.
Writes Shigemi Sato on October 10, 2014 in Yahoo News, the capacity crowd in the 4,000-seat Nanning area, “roared each time she made four dynamic tumbling passes on the floor in her final rotation.”
With a scoring of 60.231, she beat Romanian Larisa Andrea, thus retaining her world-women’s all-around gymnastics title.
“I am pleased with what I did today,” she said in Sato, but that does not mean I cannot do any better.”
She adds that, “Everything is possible at any competition.
Today I did not get gold, but next time, there is always a chance.”
Nancy Armour in USA Today on October 11, 2014 said of Simone that she has become, “only the sixth woman, and the first in 11 years, to win consecutive all-around titles at the World Gymnastics Championship on Friday. The really scary part?
This is only her fourth season at the elite level with the Rio Olympics two years away.”
Citing that world class title holder “still has room to grow,” Armour adds that, “No one can match her for power and explosiveness.
She is already doing one of the world’s toughest vaults, the Amanar, and she gets so high off the table it’s not inconceivable to think she could add another half-twist to her somersault.”
Figuratively, the writer posits that, “Her tumbling passes on floor exercises are so massive she really ought to get FAA clearance.”
Continuing accolades from USA discloses that, “All of her skills are done with precision and polish, making them look so deceptively easy. Ordinary folks have more trouble walking on flat ground than Biles does doing an aerial somersault on a balance beam that’s 4 inches wide and 4 feet off the floor.”
Named after Romanian gymnast Simona Amanar who performed this feat at the 2000 Olympic Games, in the Amanar vault the gymnast performs a round-off on the board, a back handspring onto the horse, and a flip off with a 2.5 twisting layout back flip.
Simone emerged on Sunday, October 12 cites Yahoo News, “as the most-decorated gymnast at the 2014 world championship” winning the balance beam and floor exercise event to take her gold medal winnings to four on this final day of competition.
Writes Amour, Simone becomes the first U.S. woman to win four gold’s at one World Championship having claimed titles in the team and all-around competitions earlier in the week.
To include the silver she won on the vault in the Saturday completion, this young master gymnast now has nine career medals at one world competitive event, one shy of the world record.
And it should herein be noted that Simone became the first Black gymnast to become world champion, not to be confused with the winnings of Gabby Douglas who at last year’s London Games became the first Black woman to win an Olympic all-around title.
But we must not close out Simone’s day in the sun without mentioning the infamous “Simone Biles Bee Video.”
As Meyers says in her sharing, “But we can’t not include it.”
And ironically, it was this Simone bee video that brought YG&B’s awareness of this magnificent talent as there were no – if any – widespread public media reporting on her accomplishments.
But popular culture “soft-story” media did pick up on this bee. Facebook had it all over its news feed and appreciably, a facebook friend who keeps up with our YG&B series sent news of Simone to my attention.
At the Friday October 10 awards portion when competitors were receiving their medals, Simone was standing in the middle of Romanian Larisa Iordache and teammate Kyla Ross. Lordache pointed out a bee that had landed on Simone’s bouquet.
As described by Meyers, the gold medalist winner, “did not just stoically stand there.”
She threw down her flowers and ran around the all-around podium leaving both Iordache and Ross “cracking up” – but ultimately escaping the bee.
“There was a bee on my flowers, so I tried to get the bee off and then the bee chased me, and then it got on Kyla,” she said in Sato. Unsure what to do, Simone threw the bouquet at the flying bee, only for it to swerve towards the flowers held by Ross.
“To sum up,” cites Meyers, “She’s not afraid of charging toward the vault and flipping into and over it.
She is, however, very afraid of bugs.”