5. Vice: Simone Biles Would Like to Thank Herself
Although most sporting events are still cancelled or postponed, including the Olympics, I feel as though I have been reading and watching more sports journalism recently, and it’s surprisingly good, maybe even better than what I had read before the pandemic, especially the profiles and this is no exception. Dvora Meyers’ profile of Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast ever, “was supposed to be a pre-Olympics story on Biles,” but as COVID-19 swept across the world and postponed the olympics, the profile could have been shelved for next year, assuming the games can take place in 2021.
While “there are few certainties in sports… Simone Biles has been one of them” and was seemingly destined to win gold in Tokyo, and Meyers says, “it’s not necessary to wait for all of the unknowns to become knowns. Biles has given us more than enough to be certain of, and this will remain true regardless of what happens over the next year.”
With or without the gold, Biles is already historic. One of the issues with writing about Biles—or about anyone who is the best in the world, the greatest ever, a once in a generation talent—is that “the seeming incomprehensibility of what Biles does inflects the language used to describe it; over the course of her career, it has gotten more grandiose and more hyperbolic. While this was wholly complimentary, it has also had the effect of erasing her hard work by presenting her as something almost alien.”In this profile Meyers tries to demystify Biles, and the near incomprehensibility of her talent and hard work, when “the endpoint of her abilities is still unknown.”
Biles, who was set to retire after Tokyo has committed to train for another year, but reflects here on what is after gymnastics saying, “I feel like a lot of athletes have [this] issue because you dedicate your life so hard to be good at it. And then everything you do [after] is kind of just, even if it’s good, it’s just like …,” echoing the sentiments of Tessa Virtue, “one half of the best ice dance team of all-time” who recently retired. In an interview about a year after her retirement, Virtue “spoke candidly about how difficult it’s been for her to find her purpose in her post-skating life. ‘Whatever I take on next, I’m never going to be the best in the world,’ she said.”