By John L. Horton


We have just witnessed Simone Biles winning her spot on the United States Gymnastics Team, June 25-26, in St. Louis, Missouri. Biles’ two-day total score of 118.098 was more than two points ahead of runner-up, Sunisa Lee. What an all-time, awesome, generational athlete and world-class gymnast. Biles is truly in a “class by herself.”


We are truly blessed to witness probably the “Greatest Gymnast Of All-Time,” second to none. Of course, Biles will represent America in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. What a forthcoming treat for us and the world.


Life has never been easy for Simon Biles. Simon Arianne Biles was born March 14, 1997, in Columbus, Ohio, the third of four siblings. Her birth mother, Shanon Biles was unable to care for Simon or her other siblings. Eventually, Simone was officially adopted by her maternal grandfather, Ron Biles and her maternal step-grandmother, Nellie C. Biles, in 2003.


Biles first tried gymnastics at age 6. Later, Biles began her elite career at age 14, on July 1, 2011, at the American Classic in Houston, Texas. Over the years, Biles has experienced many “ups and downs.” She has survived physical, emotional, psychological and mental hardships. For example, Biles revealed on Twitter (January 18, 2018) that she is a survivor of sexual abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar, former Team USA Gymnastics doctor. Somewhat earlier, Biles was cleared of doping to enhance performance by World Anti Doping Agency, after revealing publically that she had applied for and received a prescription for Ritalin use during competitions, Therapeutic Use Exemption, in September 2016.


Notwithstanding these obstacles, barriers and challenges, Biles has persevered and become the successful woman and iconic athlete that she is today. In summary, Biles has a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals. Biles is the most decorated American gymnast ever. And, she is widely considered to be one of the greatest gymnast of all time. Biles is the gymnast with the most World medals (25), and most World gold medals (19). Additionally, she is the female gymnast with the most World all-around titles (5).


Biles’ record is “excellence par none.” Her skill set is considered almost super human. For example, Biles has four gymnastic skills name after her, an honor reserved for the first competitor to execute a “new” move in a major international competition. Also, Biles has promised to deliver a gravity-defying feat in the Tokyo Olympics that only male gymnasts have done successfully.


Additionally, Biles is world renown for “five signature moves”: (1) Biles (Floor: Double layout, with a half twist); (2) Biles II (Floor:Triple-double, with triple twisting-double back-flip); (3) Biles (Vault: round-off, back handspring, half turn, stretched somersault with two twists); (4) Biles (Beam;Double twisting, double back-flip dismount); (5) Yurchenko Double Pike: Round-off back handspring, double flip in pike position).


For me, this makes Biles’ “story” even more compelling and inspiring. Just think of all the personal barriers and societal obstacles, she has had to overcome…and achieve it all… Accordingly, I offer my “Ode to Simon Biles”:


You made it look like fun.

You performed incredibly before everyone.

You passed the ultimate athletic test.

You became champion of the very best.

You stood magnificently before the world.

You shone as our “new” Olympic Girl.

You mastered every twist and twirl.

You were our beautiful Black Pearl.

You overcame hardships alone the way.

You practiced hard each and every day.

You achieved with smiles, style and sway.

You turned your work into amazing play.

— John L. Horton