The goat was both a joke and a statement of fact. Last week, at podium training for the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, when the athletes have a chance to try out the equipment inside the arena before the competition begins, Simone Biles wore an iridescent gray sleeveless leotard with her name written in studded crystals on the back, and, below, also in crystals, the cartoonish head of a goat. On Twitter, Biles posted a picture of herself with the back of the leotard on display, one muscular leg extended, hair in a knot, and a smile on her face, in profile. In the photo, the goat appears to be giving the rest of us side-eye; the caption reads “podium training :).” In July, Biles competed at a qualifying meet in a leotard that had her name on the back, and some gymnastics fans took offense—it is unusual, though not unprecedented, for gymnasts to wear leotards emblazoned with their names. (The men often have them in N.C.A.A. gymnastics, for example.) There was a backstory about Biles having her name on the leotard, though there didn’t need to be: she is using her name to make history. The goat, she said, was a lighthearted way to “jab back” at the “haters.” But, really, no one can dispute it, at this point: Biles is the greatest of all time.
On Friday, the first night of the women’s competition, Biles, on the balance beam, stood for a long time, then did two back handsprings, soared high into the air, and, seeming to rise even as she peaked, began to twist and flip. She completed a double-double with control and ease, and just a slight hop on the landing. If—when—she does the dismount in international competition, the move will be named the Biles. Her second pass on floor is already known as the Biles, because she was the first to do that one, too; there is also a Biles on vault. On Sunday, during the all-around, Biles, her hair trailing behind her like an exclamation point, became the first woman to perform a triple-double—two flips and three twists—in competition during a floor routine. Only a few men can do it, and the way Biles does it is better than the way most of them do. The triple-double is so difficult that U.S.A. Gymnastics has argued that a new tier needs to be added to the code of points, gymnastics’ rule book, to account for it. When Biles performs it in international competition, that will be named after her, too.
There are certain irresolvable tensions within the ideals of sportsmanship: winning is the ultimate goal, but it isn’t everything; it’s all fun and games, but you better take your job seriously; be proud, but don’t show it. These unwritten rules have always been less kind to women than to men, who are typically given some leeway when it comes to embracing their greatness and making their names. Traditionally, of course, women have given up their names altogether, in marriage, and feats of physical prowess have not often been encouraged. “There is some sort of double standard for females in sports,” the soccer player Alex Morgan said last month, after the ecstatic celebrations of the U.S. National Team were criticized, during the Women’s World Cup. Women, Morgan said, are encouraged “to feel like we have to be humble in our successes; we have to celebrate, but not too much; we have to do something, but in a limited fashion.”
Biles does not do anything in a limited fashion. (Watch that triple-double again.) That may, in the end, be her most enduring legacy. She is arguably the most dominant athlete in the world right now. At the national championships, she had a bad first day—a mistake on floor left her furious, and she muttered that her bars routine was “a piece of shit”—and still won the competition by five points. Serena Williams does not win every tournament; Michael Phelps sometimes lost a race. Biles has not lost an all-around title in six years. In that time, she has won twenty-five medals at the Olympics and at world championships. She has been competing against only herself for a long time.
Click Here: cheap kanken backpack
One of the many remarkable things about Biles is that she makes empowerment and self-confidence seem uncomplicated. “I feel like every day in training I amaze myself even more, so we’ll have to see what’s to come,” she said last month, in an interview during the qualifying meet, after performing the double-double dismount from beam and the triple-double on floor, during podium training. There was no palpable egotism in the comment; it was, like the goat, a statement of fact. In a way, Biles offers a new example of an old ideal. The pride that comes with challenging yourself isn’t something to hide. It’s the point.