BOSTON — Simone Biles ascended to the top step of the podium a lot last night. Five times, to be exact. In only her second competition since the Olympic Games in Rio, Biles swept all five titles at the 2018 national championships. She placed first on vault, on uneven bars, on balance beam, in floor exercise, and of course, in the all-around. This is the first time a female gymnast has swept all of the gold medals at the national championships since Dominique Dawes did it in 1994. (The only other gymnast ever to do it was Joyce Tanac in 1969.)
Biles started the night nearly three points ahead of defending world champion Morgan Hurd. By the time she had performed four more times, the margin had grown to more than six points. The margin between Biles and fifth place finisher Shilese Jones was 10 points. You get the idea.
After the meet, a very relaxed but hungry Biles addressed the press, which had, for the last time in Boston, crowded around her as she sat on the edge of the podium in her warm up gear. Biles commented on the color of her leotard that night, a mint-teal hybrid, which suggested a statement about survivors of sexual abuse. Activists and survivors have chosen teal as the color of the movement against sexual abuse and assault, and teal ribbons and bows have been ubiquitous at meets during the NCAA gymnastics season.
While noting that she had picked out the color of tonight’s leotard back in January, Biles said, “But it is for the survivors, and I stand with all of them.” Biles’s statement via her leotard color choice was the only one on the competition floor acknowledgement of the abuse scandal and survivors. The fact that it was due to the individual initiative of an athlete and not from USA Gymnastics tells you all you need to know about the so-called leadership of the national governing body.
During the press meeting with Kerry Perry, the new USA Gymnastics boss suggested that she’s had a lot of interaction with Biles and her family. When this was mentioned to Biles, this seemed like it was news to her.
When asked what she thinks her international competitors might be thinking after watching her at this competition, Biles responded with a laugh, “I don’t know. Maybe that I should probably quit.”