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Volume 22 No. 43
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Closing Shot: Biles vaulting even higher

Simone Biles’ latest performance puts her in rarefied air and promises to make her the most marketed Olympic athlete in the run-up to Tokyo
Simone Biles, who won five gold medals at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, has bolstered her influence by speaking out on important issues.
Photo: Getty Images
Simone Biles, who won five gold medals at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, has bolstered her influence by speaking out on important issues.
Photo: Getty Images
Simone Biles, who won five gold medals at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, has bolstered her influence by speaking out on important issues.
Photo: Getty Images

By the time Simone Biles retires from competitive gymnastics, the sport will be dotted with skills bearing her name.  

 

There are already vault, beam and floor routine elements named the “Biles.” There is even a “Biles II” floor routine maneuver, emblematic of the new levels to which the 22-year-old has pushed the sport. 

Two of those new namesake movements were recently added to the gymnastics canon following Biles’ dominant performance Oct. 4-13 at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Biles won gold medals in five of her six events, claimed her fifth world championship, and passed the sport’s previously most decorated performer, Vitaly Scherbo, for the most all-time medals (25). Biles’ total includes 19 golds.  

“When you win like that, set records like that, you end up being a name across generations,” said Greg Goldring, Cogent Entertainment Marketing vice president, who has worked extensively in the Olympic sports realm. “She now is in the family of the Lindsay Vonns, the Usain Bolts, the Michael Phelps of the world, who of course dominate on the world stage, but are relevant in non-Olympic years as well.”  

Biles’ dominance — and glittering smile — has made her an endorsement darling. She has deals with Coca-Cola, Core Power, Hershey Co. (Reese’s), Kellogg’s, Beats by Dre, Mattress Firm (Sleep Train), Nike, Candid teeth aligners and GK Fit Sportswear, with whom she has her own line of leotards. Goldring was confident that Biles’ 2020 Olympic endorsement portfolio has been booked up for a while.  

“She’s going to be everywhere,” he said. “Every other commercial is going to be Simone.” 

The career span of a gymnast is incredibly short and Goldring said he’s fascinated to see how Biles continues to tell her story once she finishes competing. It will be particularly interesting in Biles’ case because she is not shy about speaking her mind, whether tearfully condemning her sport’s governing bodies over their failures to protect athletes from sexual predators, or responding to officials’ cheapening of her athletic feats by lessening the scoring value of a move that only she has pulled off by tweeting “hahahaHAHAHAHAHhahaHahaAhahAhahahaAhahahHAHAahaaaaaaaHa bullshit.” 

Next summer in Tokyo, Biles can erase any doubts about her being the greatest gymnast in the sport’s history. The 2020 Games will be Biles’ last — she has said so herself. She won four golds at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and has a legitimate shot at winning five next summer. 

“When she does it again,” Goldring said, “she’ll be transcendent.” 

Anybody watching in Germany would argue she’s already there. Biles closed her floor routine in Stuttgart, which included a “Biles II,” by popping up off the mat. She reached her right arm out and opened her hand. A pantomime mic drop to underscore her status.