Biles, at first, had refused. “‘I’m never going to do that. I’m going to die,’” she supposedly told her coach. During the WCC training session I had watched, I had seen her fall from the uneven bars. On the way down to the mats, she cried out, “I’m going to die!” It had been in jest as it had been when she said the same to Boorman about that crazy dismount. Everyone, including Biles, laughed. In Biles’s vernacular, “die” seems to be synonymous with “fall.”

“Then that day [the video was shot] I said, ‘You know, you could double double that,’” Boorman continued. “She goes, ‘Yeah, I know I could.’ I leave it at that. I wait for her to say, ‘I’m going to do it.’ She walks over and she says, ‘Go get your iPad because I’m only doing it once and if I die, I want it on video.’” This is the video that has been circulating ever since.

I told Enrico Casella, Vanessa Ferrari’s coach, about the video of this skill when he brought the conversation around to Biles. (Everyone I interviewed in China wanted to talk about her.) Despite the Italian delegation’s fraught history with the American gymnast, he had nothing but praise for her. And he seemed to understand why Boorman would put Biles up to this move in the gym even if it never left their training base. Casella said, “Sometimes they need to try something new because sometimes it becomes boring to repeat the routine.” The need to innovate and increase difficulty isn’t always borne out of the desire to win but from something much more mundane—boredom. Biles went for that dismount from the beam, not because she needed to but to relieve the monotony of the daily grind, to get a jolt as one does from a cup of coffee. This is how she plays. It’s just that her level of play, Boorman explained to me, is so far above that of her nearest competitors.

Knowing that Biles can do an extra twist on that skill changes the way you watch her do the comparatively easy dismount. That missing revolution is like a phantom limb—you can feel its presence by the additional height she gets off the edge of the beam. Ever since seeing that training video of her doing the more complex dismount, I mentally insert the extra twist when I watch her.

I have a feeling that’s what her fans do when they watch her do her incredibly difficult gymnastics—they wonder what else is possible. Biles doesn’t impress so much with what she can do but with what she might do.

When talking about Biles, Nadia Comaneci said, “She’s a talent that’s born once in a while. You have somebody who can do something we cannot even design on a paper.”

Kim told me, “When we created Code of Points, we couldn’t even think that a girl like her will show up. She’s unique.”

At its best, the open-ended scoring system is supposed to inspire and reward the Simone Bileses of the world to train and master extreme skills. But if Comaneci’s assertion is correct—that Biles exemplifies the best in the new rulebook but is also a unicorn who possesses a style unlikely to be replicated—what does that mean for this Code of Points? Is it inherently flawed if only one athlete can fully embody its noblest aims, to push the envelope on difficulty while also performing with virtuosity, verve, and form?

Comaneci had come to symbolize the Perfect 10, so her rivals were chasing the athlete, a score, and the idea that the score represented. Without a symbolically meaningful score, it’s just Biles herself that everyone is chasing.

Excerpted with permission from The End of the Perfect 10: The Making and Breaking of Gymnastics’ Top Score—from Nadia to Now by Dvora Meyers, copyright 2016, Touchstone.