Simone Biles is most American gymnasts are decorated ever and maybe the most dominant active athlete In the world. Last October, he won her fifth all-around title at the World Championships, part of the five-medal blitz that brought the total to his career gold medal in the World 19th – more than double the total of other female gymnasts in history. This summer, he is set to continue running it at the Olympics in Tokyo … to the coronavirus change the entire sports landscape.
With the Olympics now postponed until 2021, Biles continued to practice but not yet officially committed to compete, quoting mental tension focus on peak performance for another 15 months – together with him ongoing frustration with how the United States Gymnastics, the national sports management agency, handled the persecution he suffered and many of his fellow athletes at the hands of former team doctor Larry Nassar.
Bile will be liked to win many gold medals no matter when the Olympics are held; he never lost in the overall competition he entered since 2013. But he will also turn 24 next summer, i.e. arguably ancient for gymnasts. Because of his age – and the Olympic schedule for his career – we might only see Biles competing in a Summer Olympics.
“The physical part will not be a problem,” Biles said about the challenge of looking forward to 2021. And if there were athletes who would oppose Father’s Time, it might be someone who continue to be more dominant. But according to data provided by Olympedia.org, only three artistic gymnast women aged over 22 have won all kinds of Olympic medals since 1972: Elvira Saadi (age 24) and Lyudmila Turishcheva (23) on the all-around team in 1976, and Sanne Wevers (24) at balancing the beam on 2016. The oldest to win individual all-around gold in that time frame was Simona Amânar in 2000, just weeks before her 21st birthday.
So Biles, at the age of 23, is already trying to push the limits of the aging curve for gymnasts this summer – especially next summer. To illustrate this further, this is the age-old distribution of Olympic gold medals for all female gymnast since 1952 (when medals are first awarded for separate sporting events), including team and individual events:
Of all the Olympic gold medals won by female artistic gymnasts in our sample, 81 percent were awarded before the athlete reached the age of 24. Once again, Biles has become a fungus-breaking athlete, so maybe that won’t be a problem next summer. But he is at the stage of his career where every year there is an additional problem of aging, in sports that disproportionately benefit very young people – where even multi-time gold winner with longevity recorded as being done with the Olympics at the age of 20 (like Gabby Douglas) or 22 (like Aly Raisman).
In his only appearance at the Olympics to date, Biles won four gold medals, which he already had put him in conversation The biggest Olympics ever. But even before the disaster struck in 2020, he was rather unlucky in terms of how the Summer Olympics cycle suited his years of life. Biles was 15 years old in 2012, made it not eligible for the senior US national team and the Olympics that year. Biles debuted as a senior the following March and won his first all-around gold at the World Championships later that year, so he is likely to do the same at the 2012 Olympics if his 16th season falls just a year earlier. And despite Biles take all 2017 off after his outstanding performance at the 2016 Olympics, his subsequent performances made it easy to imagine that he would still dominate the 2016 Olympics if they fell at the age of 20. If all that is true, then Biles has the potential to look forward to his third Olympics now, not the second, with at least a few additional gold medals to his name.
Biles will actually be eligible for the 2012 Olympics in the previous era. Until 1981, gymnasts can be 14 years old; from 1981 to 1996, a simple gymnast must be 15 years old at the Olympics to qualify for the senior national team. (Rules were changed after the 1996 Olympics so athletes must be 16 years old in the Olympic year). That’s how the 1990s icons Shannon Miller and Kerri Strug were able to begin their Olympic careers in their 15th season, while Biles only competed (and win a gold medal) on junior shows at that age.
Regardless of when Biles started the Olympics, the truth is that elite careers in women’s gymnastics are very short. Even The most successful Olympics tend to compete in no more than two games, with a few exceptions. But cycle time – and now the postponement of the 2020 Olympics – could affect Biles more than most. If he decides to compete next summer, he will do so at an age when almost no gymnast has recently won a gold medal, long after his colleagues’ prime numbers. And if Biles does not compete, then one of the most dominant and decorated athletes who have ever competed in Olympic sports will somehow only participate in one Olympics during his multi-level career.
The Olympics have been canceled because of war. But We Never See Something Like This.
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