Simone Biles blasts the gymnastics federation for not rewarding her greatness

Gymnastics: World Championship

Simone Biles has spent the past year in a kind of suspended reality for an elite athlete. In the spring of 2020, she was training hard to peak at the Tokyo Olympics and bring home multiple gold medals. When the Olympics were pushed back a year, Biles retreated to her home, stayed in lockdown and tried to keep up with her training. While Biles is inarguably the greatest gymnast in the world – and likely the greatest of all time – there were some question marks about how ready she would be for this year’s Olympics. Biles arrived in Indianapolis last week for the US Classic, her first competition in 18 months. In practice, she landed a move which no other woman has ever pulled off: the Yurchenko double pike.

Absolutely extraordinary. From the NY Times: “To execute it, a gymnast first must launch herself into a roundoff back handspring onto the vaulting table, and then propel herself high enough to give herself time to flip twice in a pike position (body folded, legs straight) before landing on her feet.” It was clearly something she had been workshopping over the past year, and she ended up doing it in competition at the US Classic over the weekend:

The reason this got so much attention is because no other female gymnast has even attempted it in competition. That’s pretty common with Simone Biles – she can do such extraordinary things as a gymnast that she’s often the first one. Unfortunately, gymnastics judges don’t reward Biles for what she’s doing because of some half-assed logic that if they award Biles the kind of points for difficulty that she deserves, other gymnasts might try to do what she’s doing and it will end up with a lot of injured gymnasts. Which is a weird train of thought, and one which Simone has no time for:

The judges scoring her, however, were not so impressed. Despite the move’s difficulty, they gave it a provisional scoring value of 6.6, close to what Biles’s other vaults have received. That limited the points available for performing it successfully, a point that a frustrated Biles suggested was unfair to her.

“I feel like now we just have to get what we get because there’s no point in putting up a fight because they’re not going to reward it,” she said of judges and, ultimately, the International Gymnastics Federation, which has the final word on starting values for new vaults done in competition. “So we just have to take it and be quiet.”

Biles said Saturday that the gymnastics federation had similarly given her double-twisting, double-back beam dismount a start value that was too low, and that she expects it to undervalue her Yurchenko double pike when it is reviewed. United States women’s national team coordinator Tom Forster agreed with Biles that a 6.6 was not high enough given the vault’s difficulty. “It doesn’t seem to be consistent with what they’ve done with other vault values,” he said, “and I don’t know why they do that.”

Part of the reason for that might be a concern for the safety of gymnasts not nearly as skilled as Biles — by assigning a dangerous move a low start value, the federation quietly discourages others from risking it. But there also may be a fear that Biles is so good that she might run away with any competition she enters simply by doing a handful of moves that her rivals cannot, or dare not, attempt.

“They’re both too low and they even know it,” Biles said of the rewards for her beam dismount and the double-pike vault. “But they don’t want the field to be too far apart. And that’s just something that’s on them. That’s not on me. They had an open-ended code of points and now they’re mad that people are too far ahead and excelling.”

Despite not being properly rewarded, Biles, the defending Olympic champion in the all-around, said she would continue doing them. When asked why, she quickly answered, “Because I can.”

[From The NY Times]

“Because I can” is a whole mood. In what other sport is “we won’t award greatness because the less skilled athletes will get their feelings hurt” a reasonable justification? It’s insane. It’s a f–king sport, there are winners and losers and points awarded for degree of difficulty and execution and the judges are f–ked up. People are arguing that when it came to Michael Phelps’ swimming domination, it was never a matter of “we can’t give him awards because other swimmers might have to train harder.” Why is it different with Simone Biles and gymnastics?

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94 Responses to “Simone Biles blasts the gymnastics federation for not rewarding her greatness”

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  1. Nev says:

    Go on Simone.

    • Lex says:

      This is literally the plot of Stick It the movie!!!

    • Moxylady says:

      Some moves are banned because of the level of difficulty but also the chance of injury even when performing the move correctly. I watch Nile Wilson’s YouTube channel (it’s completely awesome) and I’ve seen him talk a lot about banned moves. But also about the incredible strength and power of the gymnasts who continue to strive and push themselves and they achieve what had been believed to be impossible again and again. The sport is evolving rapidly. There needs to be room for growth. Simone is a champion. She deserves the points she earned. Racism sucks so hard.

  2. Chica says:

    Racism is infuriating. They wouldn’t be resting this way for a white woman

    • Ms. says:

      So unfortunately, they do. Elizabeth Seitz of Germany fell victim to a similar situation. The committee that decided rank and value is ironically super inconsistent as a rule, and they don’t like that she is killing the competition after they argued doing away with a 10.0 code would make gymnastics more exciting (which it did)… But there is absolutely no doubt that that there have beem outright racist things launched at Simone from around the world, including people blathering like idiots about how “the beauty” is gone from the sport. It’s barely, if at all, concealed body shaming of muscular (and sometimes, directly pointed at Black) women.

      I’m a huge gymnastics fan, but between USAG and the FIG, I am so grateful to Simone for keeping this sport even remotely cool.

    • JayNay says:

      Yep. This line alone from the NYT article got roasted on twitter: “But there also may be a fear that Biles is so good that she might run away with any competition she enters simply by doing a handful of moves that her rivals cannot, or dare not, attempt.”
      first, the “simply” is doing a lot of work there, and secondly, doing moves your competitors can’t do is how you win in sports! This discourse reeks of “a Black woman is blowing the competition out of the water and we don’t like it”.
      It’s incredible what Simone is doing, and even more that she does it so well and so smoothly. When you watch her training videos, it’s clear she works extremely hard for her achievements.

      • Kfg says:

        It is racism because gymnastics is supposed to be yt women and their greatness. Just like the years they devalued Serena and Venus. This is trying to make her smaller to prop up less skilled yt women. Racists can’t handle a black woman being the face of American Gymnastics and gymnastics in general.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        Like when the NCAA passed their “no dunking” rule to try to shut down Lew Alcindor (a.k.a. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). He was just too good for the competition, and they couldn’t handle it.

      • Yup, Me says:

        This is also reminiscent of all of the many long distance races that refused to allow Kenyans to enter because of their running and endurance skills.

  3. Fleur says:

    Absolutely love her. When she was asked why she did that vault, she answered: “because I can”. And when she was asked why she came back instead of retiring, she answered that if no other survivor of abuse was still in the sport, FIG would not change things to put an end to it, and she has such a powerful voice, she knew she had to do it, she knew she had to come back. And I LOVE how vocal she’s been ever since! She’s doing gymnastic for a greater good, not for Olympic gold. Respect.

  4. Ellie says:

    To be entirely fair to the powers that be in gymnastics, moves with the potential to result in significant or life-altering injury have been discouraged by giving them low or zero points for at least forty years, back when competitors were almost exclusively white.

    For an example see Elena Mukhina and the Thomas Salto. It’s not about “hurt feelings”, it’s about coaches not pressuring young athletes into moves that one missed attempt could leave them a broken neck.

    • Maven says:

      Nonsense. Don’t be reasonable. Everything is about race.

      • Rise_Above says:

        Everything is about race Maven. How you feel if you got paid a whole lot less than a co worker doing the exact same job? How would you feel if you weren’t even acknowledged for your hard work? How would you feel at the end of your life knowing you missed out on being relaxed and denied the opportunities extended to others just because an entire narrative explaining you were less was constructed to keep you from being treated equitably? It’s always about race because how racism permeates through every aspect of your civilized western society.

      • Oy_Hey says:

        Because everything is about race and its not POC that made it that way.
        BIPOC didn’t enslave, massacre, or discriminate against ourselves. We didn’t create Jim Crow, Immigration Inclusion Laws, Internment Camps, or the Reservation System against ourselves. We didn’t redline ourselves. We didn’t empty out neighborhoods with white flight ourselves. We didn’t create segregation academies to keep ourselves out of schools. We’re not gentrifying ourselves. We’re not the one’s that think afro/curly/dreaded hair is unprofessional. We’re not the ones asking children in sports to cut their braids or dreads to compete “safely”.

        When it comes to sports, we didn’t create white and black leagues to keep ourselves out and we’re not the ones making the rules now. So everything is about race but its deliberately obtuse folks like you that made it that way.

      • Anna says:

        Thank you @Maven @Oy_Hey Folks just stay ignorant on purpose. It’s infuriating.

      • murt says:

        THere is a race component here for sure – Simone is perceived as being more “powerful” and more easily able to do these moves b/c she’s black. That plays into all of this & I know the history w/ Mukhina, Produnova etc.

    • Louise177 says:

      A part of me does understand injuries to lesser gymnasts. A handful of gymnasts were doing double fronts on vault who had no business doing them. But I rather see skills banned than underscoring. It seems unfair to not properly score a skill. Especially since Simone does these skills extremely well and not just flinging a skill around.

      • JayNay says:

        I agree! There’s also the second part to a score, the Execution score. so if a gymnast does a move that’s too difficult for them and ends up performing it poorly, the FIG (gymnastics federation) could encourage deducting more heavily instead of undervaluing difficult skills.
        Also, I find it a bit rich of FIG to suddenly care about athlete wellbeing. The sport is having a huge reconing globally about the abusive culture around overtraining, abuse and eating disorders. The FIG could set better guidelines for coaches or restrict coaches who injure their atheltes too often. It’s a bit unfair to lowball an exceptional athlete because other coaches will be irresponsible and might push their students to attempt move those athletes aren’t ready to do safely.

    • Nic919 says:

      Then the move should be made illegal if it is too dangerous. If it is not an illegal move then they need to score for actual difficulty and not underscore it.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        This. It reminds me of Surya Bonaly’s back flip in figure skating, where she took a big penalty from the judges. But the difference is, that move was illegal and Bonaly knew it (whether it should be legal is a different argument). But Biles didnt do anything illegal, so she should be scored fairly for the difficulty of the move.

        Having said that, it wouldnt surprise me if this moves becomes illegal, just to stop Biles from doing it in the future (because they dont want her being so much better than the others)

      • Marigirl says:

        Exactly! @Mrs.Krabapple I was just thinking about Surya’s back flip when I heard about this nonsense.

    • murt says:

      Yes exactly. And a huge issue is that athletes in countries w/o great equipment will be pressured to do moves in a way that isn’t safe. Remember these are young girls for the most part training for these things w/ very little agency a lot of the time.

      Still this is another example of the USAG being completely inconsistent w/ their rules/policies and essentially continuing to reward a culture of abuse by not drawing clear lines as to what they want to see. If it’s a move that’s too dangerous, ban it. Or put in high execution penalties.

    • Cheryl says:

      I have to agree with the dangerous moves should be banned. The athletes that train in this sport (women’s gymnastics) are children and pressure from parents, coaches and nationalistic organizations is insane. Gymnastics as a sport is far different in this regard than some the sports being compared to and the push the envelope ethos is not a direct apples to apples situation. The context does involve a black adult woman who is singular in her talents and effort, but I don’t think we should conflate this context with the actual risk.

  5. Mac says:

    Simone Biles is the GOAT. She will blow away the competition no matter how they score her so why not reward excellence?

  6. DRbitchy says:

    What a weak excuse, unbelievably weak.

    • SarahJane says:

      But it’s an excuse gymnastics has been using for decades. There’s a huge list of banned moves that were once used in competition because of the danger involved. It’s not about punishing Biles, it’s about protecting the athletes

      • Oy_Hey says:

        But that’s a problem and for some reason it only comes up in modern sports when a woman, especially a black one, does something incredible. Surya Bonaly did amazing things on the ice and this was the same tune from the figure skating federation. But there was silence fo Michael Phelps decimating swimming even though he has natural talent and body features that give him a provable unfair advantage. Katie Lydecky won her gold medal with a record breaker where she swam so fast there are no other women in the photo frame of her victory.

        The entire point of the move from perfect 10 to execution + difficulty points was to “push innovation” which Biles is doing. It’s not her fault that she’s the best and baddest at what she does and if other folks can’t do those moves safely they shouldn’t and should rightfully be playing for second place instead of artificially holding the best back to make if “fair”. Sports isn’t supposed to be “fair” – the best should win.

      • Anna says:

        Thank you again @Oy_Hey

      • murt says:

        “if other folks can’t do those moves safely they shouldn’t and should rightfully be playing for second place”

        This is the issue for them – I think they’re totally wrong here (as usual) & race is a factor. But there is such a culture of abuse in women’s gymnastics that most young athletes do not have a choice in what they can/can’t do – so they are forced to do unsafe moves to compete. USAG refuses to acknowledge that explicitly and tries to address it through these types of tactics – devaluing difficult skills etc.

      • Oy_Hey says:

        @murt – you have a really good point but that’s still making a systemic problem Simone’s problem and that’s also not ok. There are huge issues with abuse and doping and rather than issue temporary or permanent ban the coaches and countries that do it the governing bodies, ignore it, allow athletes to still compete “country-less” (which is nonsense) or penalize people like Simone.

        It’s still a cop out that makes the GOAT less great in trashy way that isn’t her fault. That’s especially damaging in a sport that still has a racism problem. It looks bad, keeps the women who can do these moves that “only men can do” from proving folks wrong, and discourages disadvantaged but highly talented folks from getting into gym.

      • Ms. says:

        The FIG is NOT in the business of protecting athletes. Absolutely not. They issued a rule about make up in a DAY after a Dutch gymnast wore cat makeup for her CATS routine, but dithered around for years about getting a safety mat for Danusia Francis s side beam dismount.

        They cut down Simone because they can.

  7. aggie says:

    This is some straight-up Surya Bonaly bullshit. Simone is the GOAT and history will not look kindly on this judging approach.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Perfect comparison. I attended one of Surya Bonaly’s rehearsal sessions and she was so amazing. The small crowd wanted a backflip (of course) and she was like “sure.” And gave us one.

      • lucy2 says:

        I used to love watching her skate. She was exciting and daring and always fabulous.

    • tig says:

      The back flip was banned in 1976 and the first skater really known for doing them was Terry Kubicka, a white man.

      • Trillion says:


      • bettyrose says:

        I saw her at an exhibition performance (i.e. non-competition) in the early 90s, so the rules were different and the skaters could do their own thing. Especially at the open rehearsals.

    • Nic919 says:

      Surya Bonaly did a one footed back flip but she wasn’t consistently landing the triple jumps that some of the other women were landing, especially Midori Ito and Tonya Harding. I am all for saying that figure skating has racism and that athletic routines weren’t rewarded the same as the traditional choreography and that the judges are corrupt, but Bonaly didn’t have the best technical skills when she was competing and she is not the best example. Debi Thomas had the skills and was underscored compared to Katarina Witt and would be a better example to use.

      Simone Biles is in a league of her own as a gymnast and no one can match her. Surya was exciting to watch but she was not the most consistent technical skater in her era so it’s not an accurate comparison.

      • Theia says:

        Absolutely. I loved watching Surya skate, but her technical skills were not at the same level as her main rivals. She was more in her element as a pro skater, where she didn’t have to play by competition rules. The back flip ban had nothing to do with her.

  8. Nomegusta says:

    Imma need people to say what it is, racism. Every new move is considered risky at first intro (and this isn’t even new), they just want to knock her down instead of encouraging others to get on her level.

    Figure skating, gymnastics, tennis, etc. All find ways to try and put black participants in ‘their’ place.

    F that and them

  9. Wiglet Watcher says:

    Yeah, we all know why.
    I’ll Be charitable and say half is jealousy because Biles is so amazing the others can’t keep up.
    The other half is racism. She is a superior athlete that came out of lockdown in perfect form.

    • Anna says:

      And we see the same thing that’s been happening to the Williams sisters for years, in particular with Serena.

      • Lindy says:

        Yeah, was going to chime in with the same comment. Basically a Black woman comes along, is clearly the GOAT in her sport (traditionally dominated by white women), and predictably, this happens.

  10. Watson says:

    Why is it different for Simone? She’s black, a minority, in sport that was and is predominantly not black. Figure skating has the same issue: see Surya Bonaly and her infamous back flip. If you’re too exceptional it’s seen as unfair to everyone else if you’re black.

    Also Simone refused to shut up about sexual abuse in her sport. She criticized the entire org for endangering young girls, blasted the president at one point, demanded a full investigation, and is such a boss that she didn’t re-sign to Nike cause their ethics didn’t align with hers.

    Simone is a powerhouse, a legend and the GOAT. She doesn’t need these idiots to shine, knows her worth and refuses to bow down to an organization that let her and hundreds of girls get abused.

    Team Simone forever and a day!

    • whatWHAT? says:

      everything you said. it’s not JUST that she’s black, it’s that she’s also an outspoken (black) person who, as you said, knows her worth and WILL. NOT. sit down. love this young woman and I love that she’s such a great role model for other young women, ESPECIALLY young black women. watching this little powerpack of a person FLY like she does is so spectacular.

    • Ms. says:

      She’s amazing. It’s the outspoken ones who get cut down, black or not, but I won’t pretend the standard of “outspoken” is very different for Simone than it is for the white ladies.

      I absolutely love her. I can appreciate a woman who is unapologetically herself.

  11. psl says:

    Simone is just incredible. Phenomenal athlete.

  12. K. Tate says:

    This made me proud and SO MAD at the same time. Everything in this whole stupid world needs to be dismantled and put back together.

  13. Osty says:

    Racists hate it when us black people succeed, and they will try everything to undermine your success . They will accuse you of cheating etc cos they don’t want to accept that you are better than them

  14. Lightpurple says:

    Probably the best comparison is figure skating, which also scores on degree of difficulty, not swimming, which is who finishes first. Not everyone can land the big jumps in skating so there are other components to the score.

    If the move is too dangerous than ban it outright, like back flips in skating. But if you’re going to allow it, give it the score it deserves.

    • Becks1 says:

      That’s what I was thinking – swimming isn’t the best comparison because the nature of competition is very different, but I guess in terms of Olympic success Michael Phelps is the GOAT so from that POV it makes sense.

      And I agree – if the move is too dangerous, then don’t allow it. Don’t allow it and then say “well of course YOU can do it, you’re simone biles, but we don’t think anyone else can do it so it doesn’t deserve a high score.”

    • Ann says:

      Yes, that is the most sensible solution all around. It promotes safety and it’s also fair. I don’t think the Phelps comparison is that helpful because it’s just a race, whoever finishes first wins so long as no rules are broken. Scoring skating and gymnastics and diving is more complicated, which is one reason I enjoy watching those sports a lot more than I do swimming, which I find kind of boring. But it’s ridiculous to allow this type of difficult vault and then not reward it commensurately.

      I don’t want athletes getting injured if it can be avoided, but I want to see a robust competition. Robust and fair.

    • lucy2 says:

      This is an excellent point – too dangerous? Ban it. Otherwise, give Simone what she is owed.

      I love her. She is supremely talented, knows what she deserves, and isn’t afraid to say it.

    • TrixC says:

      Isn’t one of the issues that some of these moves are also done by male gymnasts? It would feel a bit off to say that a certain vault is banned for women but allowed for men, on the basis of their greater power. This seems to be a dilemma created by the gymnastics scoring system, once one person starts doing a new skill that’s worth a lot more points other competitors have no realistic chance of beating them unless they also attempt it. Unless they cap the difficulty value or ban certain skills, there’s always going to be an incentive for the very best athletes to try something that no one else can do.

  15. Eleonora says:

    In figure skating, they still don’t allow quad jumps in the short programs for women.

    This while more and more women are landing them and men are allowed to do it.

    This makes for the weird situation that triple axels might be more rewarding to know than the quad jumps, as ladies can do those in the short program.
    It also gives more of a chance to those with less technical skills to still beat the great jumpers.

    There’s also this construction when the non-technical points are worth less than those of men. This with the idea to not give them too much weight against technical. On the other hand, it obscures the fact that the women are getting very close to what even the best men can do (triple axel, multiple quads etc).

    I’ve also heard they kind of easied down rhythmic gymnastics, perhaps to give more countries a chance than a select few, but don’t know the details about this.

  16. BothSidesNow says:

    What a batch of misogynistic pigs 🐷 🤬. Of course had this been a male contender, they would have thrown him a parade, but Simone Biles is awarded this low grade because she is a black female and this excuse for the gymnast federation is unacceptable!! For too long, women, esp WOC, have been not been appreciated or given the accolades that they deserve. F@ck the entire lot of them!! I would like to see THEM perform this amazing defeat of greatness!!

  17. Rai says:

    She’s just so dope… its a privilege to watch her and to see the awe on my 7 year old daughter’s face watching her compete.

  18. Mtec says:

    Why is it normal for men’s competition to attempt it, but “too dangerous” for women?

    • SarahJane says:

      1) like it or not men’s bodies are built differently than women’s and allows a much bigger build of muscle mass. Meaning the can run faster, jump higher, etc that gives them more height to complete the rotations in the vault. Most actually over rotate it. 2) the men’s vault is 2 inches higher, giving them more clearance than a women’s vault. Biles can accomplish this skill because she has massive strength even compared to other top gymnast but if some with even 5% less strength than her tries this, the results would be catastrophic. The skill would be banned.

    • Eleonora says:

      I remember reading that a woman had the highest wave surfed of a season, and they couldn’t stop mentioning ‘for a woman’, though it was overall.

  19. Lola says:

    This isn’t a justification for what they are doing, only a response to the comparison to Michael Phelps. Nobody will get killed in swimming if they train harder. However, people can and do get killed in gymnastics, landing on their necks and breaking them, by pushing themselves into moves that are too much of a stretch for them. And competitive gymnasts are very young, underage girls. The average age for a USA women’s gymnastics Olympics team member is 16 years old. And many of them are being pushed within the sport by stage parents and abusive coaches. And many other adults who are profiting off of them or hoping to profit off of them.

    I am not opposed to something that protects these girls, and I’m 100% certain that exploiters and abusers will be now pushing girls into these moves who can’t safely do them. However, we all know the gymnastics federation is filled with corrupt, racist assholes with their own, not good, motives. Both things are true at the same time.

    • Cheryl says:

      Thank you. This is the issue. The other things are also issues. Both things are true at the same time.

  20. Amy Bee says:

    We all know what the difference is.

    • Lady D says:

      It is infuriating. I’m going to see if I can send her an email. Who knows if she’ll get it, but I want to do something to let her know how amazing she is.

  21. marisa says:

    it’s bs that there is even a human bias here. replace the judges with computers, if they can’t manage their bias, they shouldn’t have the responsibility. since when are world records frowned upon in sports. gymnastics leadership just loves to outdo itself, over and over and over again. these athletes deserve so much better.

  22. Jules says:

    GOAT, love her

  23. Aang says:

    I have no problem with gymnasts pushing pushing the limits, especially on vault. It’s not like vault is a performance, it’s execution of a skill. If the skill is that dangerous then they should just outright ban it. I do miss the old days of women’s floor routines and beam. The floor now looks like the men’s routines and if I wanted to just see power tumbling I could watch the men do it. It has lost the artistry. Beam too. It’s all about tricks and not flow, move connection, and elegance. It’s just “can I execute a floor routine on the beam”. Impressive but not so fun to watch.

  24. Ohreally says:

    If you can’t keep up then you’re not the best. Imagine holding back Tom Brady because he just keeps winning, and others can’t keep up. Give her the score and pass out the participation ribbons for the less skilled. I’m old enough to remember golf courses who adored Jack Nicklaus changing their courses to make it harder because Tiger Woods was wiping the green clean with his winning. If Simone was blonde and the perfect girl next door that is marketed daily this would be different, and I’m amazed that mediocre is now a skill set in the Olympics. Keep up or step aside. Practice harder. Simone obviously does.

  25. Sara says:

    My daughter is a gymnast and this is just par for the course with gymnastics. Judging is very subjective. Further, there are deductions for stupid things. If anyone has ever watched the movie Stick It they explain it pretty well. Gymnasts will even get deductions for something as stupid as wearing nail polish or having their bra strap show. Winning and losing can come down to tenths of a point. Further, as others have pointed out, this is a sport played by young kids. There are not many other sports where your prime is age 16 and you’re too old in your 20s.

    Is the federation under valuing the skills for “reasons” others think are dumb, yes but are those reasons due to racism no. There are many other examples of racist stuff happening in gymnastics (ie the comments from the Italian gymnast Carlotta Ferlito) and in other sports, but IMO this isn’t the explanation in this case.

  26. Eurydice says:

    There’s racism for sure, but I don’t know that this particular scoring issue is about racism. Over the years, there have been many vaults that have been undervalued, devalued or outright banned, like the Prudunova, which not even Simone will bother to try. And in the next code of points, I think all the vaults will be devalued so that the vault scores will be more in line with the other apparatus.

    Simone is not only extraordinarily gifted, she’s also super-disciplined, with super-careful coaches and won’t present a new move unless she’s thoroughly practiced it and knows she can do it. Even so, she and her coaches admit the double pike is very hard on the body. Unfortunately, other athletes and coaches are not always so careful and deliberate. And the Federation can’t seem to decided what it wants – Simone is a huge draw for the sport and they don’t want to stifle her too much, but they also want to think about safety. Maybe they think once Simone retires the problem will go away, but women gymnasts are getting stronger all the time.

  27. Lauren says:

    The federation can decide to ban the move if they are truly worried about the athletes. If they don’t ban it means that it’s Simone managing to correctly execute it the issue, and in that case they racist AF. It should be up to the coaches to stop the athletes in their care from trying to execute moves that they are not ready for or able to do safely, not for the Federation to discourage raw talent. Mediocrity should never be promoted or encourage just because you feel threatened by black talent.

  28. Lena says:

    I love watching the artistry of figure skating and gymnastics but both are a frustrating sport because there isn’t a completely non-subjective way to judge.

  29. NCDancer says:

    “Part of the reason for that might be a concern for the safety of gymnasts not nearly as skilled as Biles — by assigning a dangerous move a low start value, the federation quietly discourages others from risking it. But there also may be a fear that Biles is so good that she might run away with any competition she enters simply by doing a handful of moves that her rivals cannot, or dare not, attempt.”

    The simply in the above sentence is infuriating. It’s so diminishing. It’s not like she is just throwing in a hand stand or two.

    And isn’t the whole point of championship-level athletics is excellence – to do what others can’t do, to push one’s self to a higher level?

  30. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Jesus Christ, celebrate this woman!

  31. alsf says:

    It’s also about continuing to control girls and women and their bodies, because none of these organization do much to protect the girls from all sorts of other dangers their coaches and etc. might put them in. But on the mat, well, no need to reward the best, particularly if she challenges attempts to control her.

    I enjoy Simone Biles’ instagram a lot. I want to say she so cute, but she is such a badass calling her cute sounds diminishing. I wish I saw a bit more of her workouts, because I am sure it would get me off my own ass to hit the gym.

  32. Susie says:

    Of course it’s racism. And everyone who is saying it’s not especially the people who have many justifiable reasons are part of the the reason we will never move forward from racism. It’s racism because it’s Simone, and Simone is a loud powerful black women. Everything that institutional gymnastics has done with Simone has been disturbing to watch as a black women. They want her to be an anomaly they never have to deal with again. They have someone on the Mount Olympus of GOATS for all athletes not just gymnastics and they treat her like an inconvenience they are forced to deal with. They don’t want her to be the star of their sport, they suffer thru her as their star. The way they discuss her body and her talents, they way they discuss HER is just pure racism and it’s always disappointing when people refuse to see it. One of my fav descriptions of discrimination is how the ingroup is willing to break/find a way around the rules for members of the ingroup but says they are forced to follow them to the letter for the out group. Safety is a concern sure, but it is also an excuse used so well meaning people can say later of course it’s not racism it’s just safety. If Simone was a slim blonde pretty white girl in the mold of Serena’s foe( I legit can’t remember her name right now) they would have made a bunch of excuses for the opposite of what they are saying now. The fact is there are a bunch of things they could have done but they chose the option that symbolically says we don’t value this skill and therefore we don’t value what you can do. And I don’t believe gymnastics values Simone. They treat her like a freak of nature not as someone who works hard to develop her skills. And they do this to black athletes all the time. Of course they can do xyz they are “naturally” gifted with th the silent implication that white athletes have the moral high ground because they actually work at their gift they aren’t just magically given it. Fortunately it seems Simone doesn’t actually care much. She knows she’s so good that she’s getting her metals and she has the moral high ground and a good head on her shoulder. She has no respect for any of them. A lot of this stuff only works if the person they are attacking actually cares. Congrats to Simone I am the least athletic person but I can’t imagine being her and being able to fly thru the air like that it must be wonderous.

    • h-barista says:

      Compounded with racism, the *slim* pretty white girl in your example is telling. Female gymnasts and figure skaters are subjected to endless commentary about whether they are “artistic” (read slim) enough—hello eating disorders.

      Good that young gymnasts have the example of Biles working hard, enjoying herself and projecting the moral high ground while setting GOAT records.

      • Eurydice says:

        I was a competitive gymnast for many years and I have to say that that world was (is) such a cess pool it’s hard to to pick out all the problems and put them into separate categories. Exploitation, bullying, eating disorders, abuse, sexism, the pressures of others’ expectations (parents, coaches, college, country), arbitrary or outright biased judging (if you weren’t Russian, you were nobody). I was always never enough – not young enough, thin enough, ladylike enough, cute enough. Too athletic, too muscular and OMG, boobs! And when WOC entered, racism entered, too.

        But I still think it’s an amazing sport and I loved learning new skills and putting them together in an athletically beautiful way (well, on beam and floor, I sucked at the rest). And I love how the new generation of women gymnasts can be older, with more developed and differently shaped bodies. I really hope those administering the sport can clean up their act.

      • h-barista says:

        Thanks for the powerful summary from your lived experience.
        Some glimmers of hope in the cesspool!

  33. The lady says:

    That looked like at least three rotations to me! Unbelievable!

    • LynnInTx says:

      It’s essentially two and a half. When you come off the table you are upside down, so Simone has to come back around a half a rotation for the double to even begin. It’s why doubles are so hard, and so rarely attempted. Someone upthread mentioned the Prudonova (double in a tuck position) was banned. As far as I know, it was severely devalued, but not banned. There have been calls for it to be though.

      As far as the D-score of Simone’s vault… the Prudonova originally was given a D-score of 7.1. It’s now at 6.4 (as of the 2017-2020 code of points; I haven’t seen the 2021-2024 yet, and don’t know if it’s out yet). I have mixed feelings about Simone’s being at a 6.6. It will still be the most difficult vault in the (women’s) COP, hands down. It will have the largest D-score, hands down. Even then men’s vaults, AFAIK, max out at 6.0. FIG has been devaluing difficult vaults for a while, especially “dangerous” ones, especially after what seemed like a rash of gymnasts attempting the Prudonova when it was a 7.1, and most failing in terrifying ways. However, it’s not that hard to see how much they don’t value Simone’s contributions in general, and it’s not hard to find the coded, racist, language some people use when they talk about her.

      For those comparing Simone to Michael Phelps, it’s really not an apt comparison. One sport is ruled by a timer. Either you’re the fastest or you aren’t. The other is ruled by comparisons, subjectivity, all of it done in tenths of a second. Was the angle in the hips 130 degrees or 140? Was the foot when the gymnast landed that twist short by 30 degrees or 45? Was that step a large one or a medium sized one? The more apt sports to compare it to are figure skating and diving. That subjectivity, the “execution” score, both makes them wonderful and infuriating to watch. I’d also probably put equestrian sports in that list as well. I don’t think it’s a surprise that I’ve heard of overt racism in those sports either, there are a lot of people who think they are white women’s domain or something.

      Personally, I wish Simone’s vault would be just a couple more tenths in D-score value. I think a 6.8/6.9 would have rewarded her hard work and frankly amazing skills without tipping over the 7.0 mark that FIG now seems very reluctant to break. I do think racism played a role in undervaluing the vault, because I think they see Simone as something “other,” and they want to dim it and quiet it down. Quiet HER down. Gymnasts – to them – should be quite and demure and moldable. Breakable. In a way, she is something different – she is an amazing combination of in born talent and body type, hard work, fantastic coaching, and sheer willpower and determination that only happens rarely, once in a lifetime. I don’t think any one will ever come close to her legacy for a long, long time in the sport. Instead of diminishing her contributions because of that, they should be celebrating it. She is the G.O.A.T. in this sport. And I’m glad she is using her voice.

      • Susie says:

        Just want to say I appreciate you explaining all that and the distinctions and differences and I actually agree with you that swimming and gymnastics are not comparable in this case. I also want to say that I agree a degree of safety is part of this or at least a valid discussion even though I also think this is racist and gymnastics overall treatment of Simone has shown they tolerate her they don’t like that SHE is this successful. But your explanation also made me think about how these nitty gritty discussions is what these type of institutions want. The institution, its supporters and its detractors all know that this is racism at its deepest level. It’s a reason why many people who don’t know much about gymnastics (or swimming) beyond how cool it looks are weighing in. Many of us know racism when we see it cuz we experience racism all the time. But it’s 2021 and racists can’t be old school racist anymore so they have to hide their racism behind discussions of safety and a point here and a point there a d didn’t you hear they also banned that Russian girls skill. They have to give justifications that CYA and allow people who like the racist status quo but don’t want to be called racist the excuse to say those “woke” people like to be victims and call everything racist. (Which everything touches racism that’s part of the horror you can’t escape it) And I’m definitely not saying that’s what you are doing but the amount of detail and knowledge you used to write what you did is something Most of us won’t have access to but I also know enough about how black women are treated and have seen enough in the broad strokes of how they have treated Simone but also Serena and Suraya to very comfortably call racism (all these S names the letter for Strong). It just got me thinking on how these are the ways that the status quo continues itself. The people who want to see the racism can see it cuz racism is actually very simple but the people who don’t want to see it can use these very specific details to handwave the dynamics. I think while the details and distinctions matter (I don’t want you to think I think your knowledge/expertise is irrelevant in this discussion it’s important and interesting) I also think it’s obvious that these sports HATE that their biggest talents are these strong loud (usually muscular) black women and they work hard at devaluing them while using their cultural cache to promote the sport and make money. Again I hope you don’t think I was going at you, you just got me thinking.

      • Eurydice says:

        Yes, thank you – I was wrong . Of course, the Produnova still exists – Chusovitina keeps trying it (and wow, at age 45). From what I’ve seen in the proposed COP, all vaults will be devalued by .4

  34. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    Anybody else here think that Ms. Biles might not be human?????
    That’s it.

  35. Allyson says:

    She had been practicing it since February of 2020. It’s not like she woke up in May and thought, I think its time to double pike. The GOAT just needs to GOAT. Keep slaying, Simone!

  36. MJM says:

    How dare she excel in gymnastics while black? What about the poor inferior white women? 🙄

    • Lulu says:

      Most competitive gymnasts are minor children, including those all the way to and including the Olympics national teams in every nation.

      Please don’t refer to these minor girls as “inferiors.” Simone is the greatest and the best and doesn’t need you tearing down children with abusive names in order to keep being the GOAT, nor would she want that.

      With the history of rampant abuse towards young girls that’s endemic in gymnastics, to refer to these children as “inferiors” is shockingly tone deaf. Calling little girls inferior is not the goal of anyone who is trying to dismantle systemic racism.

  37. Shannon says:

    FIG needs to find the predators first. I can’t even be concerned with scoring at this point, and Seriously Simone Biles is on another level. Her tumbling and willingness to push boundaries is like old school Soviet gymnast of the 80s and 90s. She should win every gold and if she doesn’t then FIG can forget at least two generations of gymnasts for the U.S. Let her reign supreme like Retton for 20 years to wipe the stank away.

  38. carol savesky says:

    Well, I’m ready to order my new t-shirt. It will read


  39. Gymn69 says:

    They did this back in like 95 when China’s Liu Xuan debuted a one-arm giant & one-arm release move. They gave it a low value so she took it out of her routine and as far as I know, no other woman has attempted it again but the men still do.