Simone Biles soars to AP Female Athlete of the Year In this Aug. 9, 2016 file photo, United States' Simone Biles performs on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women's team final at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Biles was selected as the AP Female Athlete of the Year, on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell/Dmitri Lovetsky, FIle)
Simone Biles soars to AP Female Athlete of the Year
Lexile

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. Biles was standing atop the podium, a gold medal around her neck and the sport she's redefining one boundary-pushing routine at a time was 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, Biles received 31 votes out of a possible 59. U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, who won four golds and a silver in Rio, finished second with 20. 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.
 
Biles became the fifth gymnast to win the honor. She joins 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. It was 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.
 
Yet Biles seemed immune to it. At least on the outside. Inside, there were more than a few butterflies when she stepped onto the floor during team preliminaries on Aug. 7. They vanished the moment she stepped onto the green and cream colored floor at Rio Olympic Arena. Then she and the rest of her "Final Five" teammates - Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian - put on a clinic that showcased how substantial the gap between the Americans and the rest of the world has grown.
 
Then again, the gulf between Biles and every other gymnast on the planet - even her good friends in red, white and blue - may be even wider.
 
"In prelims, I did very well. I kind of shocked myself," Biles said. "I came in thinking, 'I've been to three worlds.' I knew the gist of it. Once I got (prelims) out of the way, I just kind of relaxed."
 
What followed was a run of brilliance: a team gold as a fitting send-off to retiring national team coordinator Martha Karolyi. Another came in the all-around two days later, where her score of 62.198 bettered Raisman by more than two full points, the gymnastics equivalent of winning a football game by three touchdowns. A third gold came on vault, the first ever by an American woman at the Olympics and Biles' first in major international competition to fill the only hole in her increasingly peerless resume.
 
A bronze on beam followed thanks to a messy landing on a front flip, her only major form break in Rio. No matter, she put the exclamation point on her gold rush with a gravity-escaping floor routine that ended with Biles rushing to embrace longtime coach Aimee Boorman as their long journey to this moment ended in triumph.
 
The ensuing four months have been a whirlwind. Biles carried the U.S. flag at closing ceremonies, published her autobiography, took part in a post-Olympic tour with her teammates (including performing in eight shows despite a fractured rib) and hung out at the White House with the president. She remains open to giving it another Olympic shot in Tokyo in 2020. That's for later. In January she'll sit down and plot out her goals for the upcoming year. For the first time since she can remember, gymnastics won't be on the list.
 
It'll be weird, sure. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
 
"I miss training with the girls and having a good time," Biles said. "Whenever I go to the gym to visit them and I see them, I do not miss this part at all right now."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What did the author mean by saying “The uneven bars still uneven?”
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (16)
  • braydeng-atk
    1/17/2017 - 01:27 p.m.

    He meant that this challenge, was just another challenge that Simone Biles had to face.

  • brookeb2-dav
    1/18/2017 - 05:50 p.m.

    In response to "Simone Biles soars to AP Female Athlete of the Year ," I agree that Simone Biles tried to treat the 2016 Summer Olympics like just your average ordinary gymnastics meet. One reason I agree is that when I was watching the Olympics, Simon made it look so easy. Another reason is that she did really perfect in the Olympics and I couldn't believe how good she was!. It says in the article, "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." Everyone thought during the Olympics that Simone is the best gymnast of all time. Even though Simone messed up on the beam and got a bronze metal, I think she did great overall!

  • fpresley-dav
    1/19/2017 - 05:09 p.m.

    In response to "Simone Biles soars to AP Female Athlete of the Year," I agree that Simone was the right person to get female athlete of the year. One reason I agree is that she is an awesome teammate. She is always so kind and she gives her team courage. Another reason is that she always treats every meet the same and is super bias about being in the Olympics. It says in the article,"Simone Biles tried to treat the 2016 Summer Olympics like just your average ordinary gymnastics meet." A third reason is that she is an amazing gymnast and deserves the female athlete of the year. Simone can do so many amazing things and is a perfect gymnast, even when she messes up. Even though there are many great female athletes, I think
    Simone deserves the female athlete of the year .

  • olivial-orv
    1/19/2017 - 07:27 p.m.

    That the bars are still different heights. Nothing has changed. The Olympics don't have any magic equipment, its just regular stuff that gymnasts use.

  • mwils-wim
    1/20/2017 - 11:47 a.m.

    I myself am a huge fan of Simone Biles and am so excited for her receiving AP female Athlete of the Year. Simone started out just like any other young girl with dreams, and she was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to pursue them. I think that's awesome!

  • maddiem3-har
    1/27/2017 - 01:37 p.m.

    The author said, "The uneven bars are still uneven". The author meant by this that even though the stakes and stage were different, the bars are just bars no matter where they are.The whole time while in Rio, Biles kept in her mind that the Olympics were just another meet.

  • jourdanc-
    2/07/2017 - 08:48 a.m.

    I guess she meant that the bars are still uneven.

  • rainad-
    2/10/2017 - 08:44 a.m.

    The author meant that she was still doing her regular floor exercises, with no challenges or changes. It was still going to come up in her routine in the end.

  • kylies-ver
    2/10/2017 - 12:14 p.m.

    I think if I was going to be in the Olympics I would think of it as just a completion because essentially that is what is. I would help me calm my nerves just like it did for Simone.

  • izzyb1-har
    2/16/2017 - 10:47 a.m.

    The author means that Simone even though she is smaller than the others better than them and this is where uneven.

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