To say Simone Biles is America’s greatest athlete is an undersell

The Olympic hero overcame a kidney stone and rare blunders at the world championships and still won a medal in every event. Her only competition is herself

We observers have long since exhausted the well of superlatives when it comes to Simone Biles. The 4ft 8in, 105lb sprite from suburban Houston had emerged as a once-in-a-lifetime talent even before her star-making coronation at the Rio Olympics, where she fulfilled her long-held promise with four gold medals in seven unforgettable days. Turns of phrase, margins of victory, records broken: these languages are entirely ill-suited for translating her unique physical genius, which, truly, must be seen to be believed. That Biles is the best athlete in America today, which she is, feels like an undersell.

Take her showing at last week’s world championships, where the 21-year-old became the first woman to win a fourth all-around world title and the most decorated female gymnast ever. The outcome itself was unremarkable: Biles has won every major team and individual all-around competition she’s entered since her senior career began in 2013, a dumbfounding run of consistency that prompted the sport’s cognoscenti to declare her the most talented gymnast in history before she’d competed in an Olympics.

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