For anyone who feels like Simone Biles’ rise in Rio seemed to come out of nowhere, former U.S. gymnast and gold medalist Shawn Johnson is here to give a reality check.
Johnson joined Bleacher Report Radio Wednesday and said the whole gymnastics world has been keeping their eyes on Biles – who will leave the 2016 Olympics with four gold medals and one bronze – for around three years leading up to now.
“She was this little 15-16 year old girl who was honestly better than anything we’d ever seen,” Johnson said. “We were all skeptical about whether or not she could hold that talent for three years waiting for the Olympic Games, but she just seemed to get better and better, which didn’t seem possible.”
Add to that, Biles doesn’t have to choose between the all-around or individual events, which is common in gymnastics.
“For Simone to come out and win with such a lead (in all-around), and to go on to event specialist and win three more medals, it’s just something our sport has never seen,” Johnson said. “It’s been incredible to watch.”
Biles captured the world’s attention by claiming gold in the women’s vault, team all-around, floor exercise, individual all-around and taking home bronze in the women’s beam. She is now just the fourth American to win five medals at a single Olympics.
The Rio Report hosts Chris Spatola and Jim Noble chimed in on her accomplishments.
“She just took care of business,” Noble said.
“With all the greatness we’ve seen in these Olympics, Jim, Simone Biles has to be right up there in that category,” Spatola added.
Of course, Biles isn’t the only U.S. athlete to make us want to salute every American flag we pass by. Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky dominated the swimming pool in Rio. Phelps finished out his historic Olympic career with five gold medals and one silver.
“I don’t think there’s going to be anyone like him again in many years, if ever,” former swimmer and 12-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres said on The Rio Report. “He’s a phenom.”
Ledecky claimed four gold medals and one silver during the Games, but that wasn’t all. In most of her races, she absolutely dominated the field by several seconds in her longer races.
“You just don’t see that,” Torres said. “She just has this perspective on what she needs to do and her goals and her accomplishments, I think mentally she’s more far ahead than everyone else.”
Catch the latest from Rio on Rio Olympics Radio, Ch. 106 and Bleacher Report Radio, Ch. 83. Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)