Make no mistake; your vision isn’t hazy due to this summer’s extreme heat. What you witnessed was a double dose of “Simone Magic” at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Both Simone Biles and Simone Manuel made Olympic history during this summer’s games. This week, we celebrate and salute gymnastic Phenom Simone Biles and super swimmer Simone Manuel.
They say good things come in small packages, but what about an astonishing young woman, just 4’8 tall, who can propel herself into the air like a rocket and descend while amazingly twisting and flipping herself three times within seconds before touching the ground feet firmly planted with a smile that lights up the world? We’d all agree that she’s more than good; she’s more like Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, or some other super hero with extraordinary natural abilities. Simone Biles is the petite 19-year-old that has wowed the world with her amazing gymnastic prowess at this year’s Olympic games. Biles now totes the moniker of the “Best Gymnast Ever!”
Although Simone Biles began displaying her athleticism during her preschool years, flipping off of her parents’ mailbox, furniture, and eventually the family trampoline, it wasn’t until 2013 that she became known to households across America and worldwide. Around the age of six, Simone was acknowledged for her prodigy like skills during a field trip to a local gymnastics facility by the on-site trainers. Biles formally began her gymnastics training at the age of eight. She became so dedicated to her craft, that she convinced her parents to homeschool her from eighth grade through high school. She initially trained for 32 hours a week. There’s no wonder she is being considered “the best whoever did it” in gymnastics.
Fast forward to 2013, Simone catapulted to unprecedented heights during the U.S. P&G Championship as the all-around winner. In the same year, Biles became the first African-American female to win a gold medal in the all-around at the World Championship. In 2014, she continued to dominate, and the sport dubbed her signature move, which consists of a double layout with a half twist out, “The Bile.”
“It’s kind of weird because every time I do it, I say ‘Oh, I’m going to do a double lay half out,’ I never say, ‘Oh I’m going to do the Biles,’” she expressed during an interview with USA Gymnastics.
She goes on to gloat just a tad, “I’ve seen some of like, my guy friends try it –but they never land it. They get really upset.”
On the highest sporting platform for the world to see, Simone Biles proved yet again that she is untouchable. She has already won not one, not two, but three gold medals thus far in the 2016 Olympic Games, and is a contender for a fourth. Biles has earned gold medal status for the Women’s Individual All-Around, Women’s Team All-Around, Women’s Vault; and a bronze medal for Women’s Beam competition. Talk about showing up and showing out! Simone Biles has definitely showed us all what she’s made of and then some.
Not to be overlooked, Simone Manuel has proved to be the surprise of the USA Olympic Swim Team. She made history as she tied for first place winning a gold medal for the Women’s 100-Meter Freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Manuel’s face was not wet from pool water only, but of tears, too as she stood proudly on the podium and accepted her award. This victory earned her a page in history as the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming. Simone also won a team gold medal in the Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay; scored silver medals in the Women’s 50 Meter Freestyle and the Women’s 4×100 Freestyle Relay. With pride after her historic win, she had this to say to reporters:
“This medal is not just for me, it’s for the African-Americans who have come before me and been an inspiration. I hope I can be an inspiration to others so this medal is for those who come behind me and get into the sport and hopefully find the love and drive to get to this point.”
Manuel’s emotional response comes from her realization at an early age that there weren’t many people that look like her in the world of swimming. She posed the question to her mother as to why this was the harsh reality. After some heartfelt research, at the young age of 11-years-old, Simone understood her mission was larger than swimming. Her goal then and now is to erase the color line on the ability to swim. She doesn’t want to be the only best black girl to ever do it, but rather be just one of the greatest swimmers, period. Simone Manuel is proud of who she is and her accomplishments, enough to know that she is the one now holding the baton to take a stand. Manuel is not only making waves in the pool, but creating a conscious wave through her aquatic talent.
EGL looks forward to seeing more astonishing athletic feats from both of these ladies!
Written By: Tawana C. Coleman