10 years later: Biles returns to Antwerp and will participate in a World Championship for the sixth time

The gymnast won the United States Selective tournament and automatically won the place in the North American quintet that will participate in Belgium. Despite not having been on the initial nominal list, she will participate in the most important event of 2023 and will return to the international scene after two years and two months.

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Biles won the selection that took place in Texas and automatically secured a place among the team's five.
Biles won the selection that took place in Texas and automatically secured a place among the team's five.

It is as difficult to establish a convincing fact to justify that someone is the best of all time as there are several references that can be used in this regard.

Charisma, validity, titles, medals and even legacy within their sport are just some of these arguments.

At this point, even to the detriment of those of us who have other favorites, it’s hard to argue with those who consider Simone Biles to be the greatest gymnast of all time.

If there was one thing missing from the legend, it was his return to the ring after the Tokyo sports disaster.

With the announcement that she will be the great figure of the North American team that will travel to the World Cup in Antwerp, Biles will seal an unprecedented decade of hegemony in a discipline that tends to devour the charm of its stars at a very young age.

Just to justify the idea based on some notable examples, while Biles returns to Antwerp after 10 years - no one should dare to set an expiration date for her career at this point - the Czechoslovak Verba Caslavska (60-68), the Russian Ludmila Tourischevq (68-76) and Nelly Kim (74-79) or the unforgettable Romanian Nadia Comaneci (75-80) left a mark on Leble but no one endured the passage of time as Simone has been doing.

When last week the International Gymnastics Federation published the nominal list for the Antwerp World Championship, which begins on September 30, Simone Biles was not among the five representatives of the United States women’s team. It is true that there was still no official announcement from USA Gymnastics and the room to make changes to the squad left the door open, but some signs made us think of a World Championship without Biles.

Now it’s official and there are no more rumors or conjectures. The discipline’s superstar will return to the world stage after topping the overall standings on Tuesday night in the United States domestic team, held in Katy, Texas. She scored a total of 55,700 points and, despite having two falls, she was still ahead of Shilese Jones’ 55,300 and Skye Blakely’s 55,000 points. The rules were clear: the best placed on the first day of the tournament secured a place in the quintet that will participate in the World Cup in Belgium. And so it was that the seven-time Olympic medalist automatically joined a World Cup team for the sixth time in her career.

It is precisely in Belgium and precisely at the Sports Palace in Antwerp that Simone Biles broke out with her international premiere in the first World Cup of the 2012-2016 Olympic cycle, which would have her as its protagonist. It is exactly a decade later that the gymnast, now 26 years old, will return to that place where it all began. She returns with 25 world medals and seven Olympic medals, in addition to a legacy for high-performance sports that was encouraged once and for all to talk about mental health without fear of insinuating weakness. The great champion and an unprecedented force for a sport that became popular in the 1970s as a discipline for girls with grace and courage. For Biles it will be her sixth World Cup and in all six she participated with aspirations for a podium.

Only three gymnasts in the top ten of that 2013 Antwerp tournament are still active. It’s a great merit to stay up there for so many years. No one recognizes this aspect more than the athletes themselves. They know how difficult it is to be healthy and motivated for so many days, weeks, months and years.

Dressed in pink in that World Cup debut, a 16-year-old Biles surprised her jump with the difficult Amanar, who performed with a simplicity that even Simona Amanar herself had, who was the pioneer with the Yurchenko double pirouette and a half in women’s gymnastics. That day, she won the all-around by exceeding 60 points and making a difference of 0.9 tenths over the second, her compatriot Kyla Ross. An era began and we still didn’t know it.

Ten years later, Biles, who could return to the World Championship to make a single device or to bring only a few good grades to the team’s total, returns as they like to return to the greats of the sport. Competitive and consistent and with a debt to be paid: coding the double-mortal Yurchenko in a tent, a jump she presented at national tournaments and that she planned to present at Tokyo 2020, when she decided to prioritize her mental health. If she does it in Antwerp, the jump will be named Biles, since there are four other elements in the scoring code invented by her.