Simone Biles Named AP Female Athlete of the Year
With a record-tying four golds in gymnastics in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Simone Biles has secured the title of Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.
It’s been quite a year for Simone Biles.
The American gymnast dominated the 2016 Rio Olympics, bringing home a record-tying four golds (along with one bronze), placing her among a very small group of elite gymnasts to take home that much gold in a single Olympics.
Her autobiography, Courage to Soar, was just released in November.
Met with the president and first lady? Check.
And among all the other accolades she’s received, she has now been named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.
Simone Biles tried to treat the 2016 Summer Olympics like just your average ordinary gymnastics meet. So what if the stage and the stakes were different?
The floor was still the floor. The vault still the vault. The uneven bars still uneven. The balance beam still a four-inch wide test of nerves.
And the 19-year-old with the electric smile and boundless talent was still the best in the world. Maybe the best of all-time.
Over the course of 10 days in August, the biggest meet of her life ended like pretty much all the others in the four years that came before it: with Biles standing atop the podium, a gold medal around her neck and the sport she's redefining one boundary-pushing routine at a time staring up at her. Not that she remembers any of it.
"It's kind of a blur," Biles said.
Maybe to Biles, but not to the rest of the world. Her massive haul in Rio de Janeiro — a record-tying four golds to go along with a bronze for the dominant U.S. women's team — propelled her to stardom and rendered her last name superfluous. Now there's one more honor to add to what on Twitter is known simply as #SimoneThings: Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.
In a vote by U.S. editors and news directors announced Monday, Biles received 31 votes out of a possible 59 votes. U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, who won four golds and a silver in Rio, finished second with 20 votes. Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon for the seventh time to tie Steffi Graf's record of 22 Grand Slam titles, and three-time AP women's NCAA basketball Player of the Year Breanna Stewart tied for third with four votes each.
The AP Male Athlete of the Year will be announced Tuesday.
Biles became the fifth gymnast to win the honor, joining Olga Korbut in 1972, Nadia Comaneci in 1976, Mary Lou Retton in 1984 and Gabby Douglas in 2012. It's company Biles joined while completing a run of dominance that included three straight all-around World Championships, an unprecedented run at the top in a sport where peaks are often measured in months, not years.
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.