Agência Brasil Fotografias, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons


As horseracing fans look forward to Cheltenham 2022 competitions, most gymnastic enthusiasts are looking forward to the 2021 Olympics tournament. The 2021 Olympics games are getting closer by the day, and we can’t help but remember the American gymnasts that took part in the Atlanta Vault games in 1996 as they flipped their way to victory. These teenage girls looked so tiny despite their age, and you could even see some of their muscles moving under the skin. Nonetheless, most people regarded them with awe, although thinking about them right now will make you cringe.

Later after the event, Dominique Moceanu revealed that she was often restricted to 900 calories daily during competitions, and she had to compete in Atlanta with a fractured tibia. Gymnast Kerri Strug also claimed her widely celebrated vault with a torn ankle. However, these girls solemnly stood together like soldiers on the medal podium, sending a clear message that being among the best takes pain.

Historically, gymnastics has been about showcasing a certain level of femininity, rewarding girls who are pretty, small, and compliant without complaining while winning with a smile. The sport is also riddled with all kinds of abuse, but these extraordinary little girls tend to be discarded when they grow up. Fortunately, the reigning U.S champion Simone Biles is still commanding the mat, showing other young girls watching her from home that things don’t have to be this way.

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Simone is arguably America’s greatest gymnast in history and she’s still dominating in a sport where you can easily age out even before you’re old enough to vote. The 24-year-old athlete is still on top of her game, forging a new model for this American popular female sport as an athletic young woman and not a prepubescent girl. Simone is still on top of her game and she keeps getting better than ever while having a great time on the mat.

The leading American gymnast loves posting happy pictures of her in bathing suits, enjoying a pizza, and her boyfriends too. You’ll also find Simone debunking unhealthy notions of what it takes for an athlete to succeed and how a female champion should look. That way, Simone Simone is redefining female power in sports.

Simone is also sending a message on what’s needed to reach the most coveted heights in gymnastics, which is quite different from anything we’ve ever seen before. In the past, most gymnasts have gone to extreme heights to become successful in the Olympics, ranging from extreme diets to avoiding having intimate relationships (boyfriends). Unfortunately, these athletes only get endorsement opportunities and exposure to prime television only every four years despite their sacrifices. That’s because the sport doesn’t have a strong pro league, making the Olympics the only fleeting moment with good money.

By refusing to go to the extremes of her predecessors, Biles has proven there are more strategies that athletes can try without sacrificing their entire lives. The strategy has helped Biles sustain the longest reign in gymnastics over the last few decades while maintaining her physical strength and relative nonchalance on her excellence. That’s despite the huge pressure and scrutiny from the public.

Biles is also nurturing young gymnasts across the country, particularly girls of color. During the National Championships, the 24-year-old gymnast was taking care of 15-year-old Zoe Miller who trains at her gym. She also tied a white bow on Miller’s bun as she looked forward with a death stare that looks familiar to anybody who ever tried something unfathomably hard as a teenager.

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