Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles became the fifth gymnast to win AP’s Female Athlete of the Year award on Monday (Dec 26).
Biles joined the likes of Olga Korbut, Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, and Gabby Douglas while completing an unprecedented run for top spot in a sport where peaks are often measured in months, not years.
BREAKING: Star gymnast Simone Biles voted AP Female Athlete of the Year after golden run at Rio Olympics. pic.twitter.com/YxtIRIsTD1
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) December 26, 2016
The teenager from Spring, Texas, hardly seemed burdened by the outsized expectations. If anything, she embraced them. She opted out of a verbal commitment to compete collegiately at UCLA to turn professional so she could cash in on the lucrative opportunities afforded an Olympic champion, a bit of a gamble considering the window is so narrow and directly tied to success at the Games.
Yet Biles seemed immune to it. At least on the outside. Inside, there were more than a few butterflies when she stepped onto the floor during team preliminaries on Aug. 7. They vanished the moment she stepped onto the green and cream colored floor at Rio Olympic Arena as she and the rest of her “Final Five” teammates — Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian — put on a clinic that showcased how substantial the gap between the Americans and the rest of the world has grown