Simone Biles: Soaring and stumbling in search of a safe landing

The young athlete won against the odds many times over, long before arriving in Japan, writes Andrew Buncombe

Sunday 01 August 2021 16:44
<p>Simone Biles put her own mental health ahead of the competition</p>

Simone Biles put her own mental health ahead of the competition

There are two video clips of Simone Biles that tell part of an astonishing story.

One is from 22 May 2021, at the Indiana Convention Centre in Indianapolis, in which Biles performs the Yurchenko double pike vault – the first female gymnast to do so in a competition. During the move itself – and then as she jogs away from the landing mat, unable to suppress a brief smile – she appears buoyant, focused and aware. Confidence oozes from her.

The next is from just two months later, when the athlete tries to perform a similarly difficult move – an Amanar – at the Tokyo Olympics, but fails to do so, managing only one-and-a-half turns rather than the two-and-a-half she had intended.

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