Rio 2016: Simone Biles is unlike any gymnast we’ve ever seen – Updated by Alex Abad-Santos on August 11, 2016, 10:18 p.m. ET


There are only a handful of constants in this world. Simone Biles, the most dominating gymnast the sport has ever seen, is one of them.

On Thursday, Biles won gold at the 2016 Women’s Olympic Individual All-Around competition. She scored a 62.198, ahead of American Aly Raisman’s 60.098 and Russia’s Aliya Mustafina who scored a 58.665.

It was a supreme performance. .

On Tuesday, Biles and the American women’s gymnastics team annihilated the rest of the field at the 2016 Olympic team event, turning it into a clinic. Team USA finished the competition with a score of 184.897, eight points ahead of Russia — a huge margin considering that gymnastics is a sport scored in fractions of points.

Biles was a huge part of the win, the only one of Team USA’s five members to compete in all four events. Her scores helped vault the team ahead of the pack and helped solidify their legacy as the best team in the history of women’s gymnastics.

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Rio 2016: the US women’s gymnastics team’s sheer domination, explained – Updated by Alex Abad-Santos on August 10, 2016, 9:30 a.m. ET


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: (L to R) Gold medalists Alexandra Raisman, Madison Kocian, Lauren Hernandez, Gabrielle Douglas and Simone Biles of the United States pose for photographs with their medals after the medal ceremony for the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 09: (L to R) Gold medalists Alexandra Raisman, Madison Kocian, Lauren Hernandez, Gabrielle Douglas and Simone Biles of the United States pose for photographs with their medals after the medal ceremony for the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Team on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The 2016 Olympic women’s gymnastics team final wasn’t a competition, it was a clinic taught by Team USA. During Simone Biles’s floor routine, with the gold medal essentially clinched, you could see the Russian team — the Americans’ bitter rivals for the last few Olympics — watching Biles work her magic.

The US team should have handed out participation ribbons and charged a fee.

Like we said they would, the Americans ran away with Olympic gold, beating the Russian team by eight points — an ocean of difference in a sport that often comes down to fractions of fractions of points.

There was no drama. There was no excitement. There was no suspense.

Despite the presence of glitter, eye shadow, and elegance, the Olympics women’s gymnastics team final was a slaughter. Here’s how the US team did it.

Simone Biles was Simone Biles

There’s a point where you run out of words to describe Simone Biles’s dominance. The woman has not lost a team or all-around competition in three years. That’s three years with a target on your back. Three years where everyone dusts off their A-game to give you their best shot. Three years of people waiting for you to crack. Three years of competing against yourself because you’re your only true competition.

To me, Biles’s most impressive achievement is that she’s maintained her edge, gotten better and better, and always taken care of business.

Just like she did on Tuesday.

Biles was the only American gymnast to compete in all four events in the team all-around competition, turning in a cumulative score of 61.833. She had the highest score of the night on vault, beam, and floor.

The highest compliment you can give Simone Biles is that she performed like Simone Biles. And Biles was every bit of herself during the team finals.

The US’s “weakest” event was better than any team’s strongest

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These three tweets about Simone Biles and her teammates are lessons on how not to think about racism.- Updated by Jenée Desmond-Harris on August 2016


These three tweets about Simone Biles and her teammates are lessons on how not to think about racism.

In the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, the United States women’s gymnastics team is generating excitement for two main reasons:

First, as Vox’s Alex-Abad Santos has explained, they’re almost certainly going to win the gold.

Second, the five women who will compete — Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian, and Laurie Hernandez — make up the most racially and ethnically diverse group of Olympic athletes in the team’s history. Biles and Douglas are African American. Hernandez, whose mother describes her as a “second generation Puerto Rican,” identifies as Latina, Kocian and Raisman (who is Jewish) are both white.

That second point has been the topic of a lot of discussion. Why? Because it signals increasing inclusiveness in a sport that, here in the United States, has historically had mostly white participants and, on a global level, is still plagued by lazy stereotypes about the abilities of athletes who aren’t white.

As recently as 2013, Italian Gymnastics Federation spokesperson David Ciarall iasserted that women of color in the sport are “well known to be more powerful,” contrasting this with the “more artistic” style and “elegance” of their white counterparts. He later apologized, and a recent analysis by Deadspin’s Dvora Meyers explains the big holes in this theory. But, wrong as it may be, the statement is a powerful example of the biases that exist in the gymnastics community.

There’s a more straightforward, emotional reaction to the diverse team, too. In the words of the social media celebrations of the many fans who’ve shared images of the five leotard-clad young women, “Representation matters!” What they’re saying is that for black and Latino people — especially little girls — to be able to turn on the TV and see people who look like them in this rare-until-now context is a big deal. Many white Americans who are simply pleased to see a team that includes more reflections of the ethnic makeup of the country we live in are equally enthused.

Positive sentiments like these seem to make up the bulk of the reaction to the team’s composition.

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