Artistic Gymnastics

As GOAT debate continues, Simone Biles is doing it for herself

"I wanna see how much I'm capable of," said Biles in a recent interview with 60 Minutes

By Scott Bregman ·

Four-time Olympic gymnastics gold medallist Simone Biles might have been a little surprised to see her name trending on Twitter Super Bowl Sunday (7 February).

But even though she wasn’t suiting up at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, she was part of the conversation as fans online – and elsewhere – rushed to name quarterback Tom Brady the greatest athlete of all time.

As the debate raged, fans added names like Biles’ in addition to tennis super star Serena Williams, basketball’s Michael Jordan, golf’s Tiger Woods and many more to the discussion.

Biles, who tongue in cheek wore a leotard with a goat on it during a training session at the 2019 U.S. Championships, said she was just honored to be in the conversation.

“You guys are so sweet to go to war for me,” Biles tweeted, “but honestly just in awe to be thought of in the same category as these greats!”

The 23-year-old surely deserves to be in that category, having won every all-around competition she’s entered since the 2013 U.S. Championships including five World Championships titles and the 2016 Rio Olympics. Overall, she’s won 19 World gold medals – the most of any gymnast ever. She’ll head to Tokyo 2020 this summer as the favourite to win up to six medals and five of them could be gold.

The debate continued on Tuesday evening when a cable sports channel posted a fan image of sport's greatest of all time (GOAT) where the most visible athletes were all men (Serena Williams was pictured in the right back corner).

Not afraid to speak her mind, Biles responded to the image.

“There are so many women I can think of that belong in this photo yet there are none,” Biles said in a quote tweet.

NBC's Today Show reached out to Biles for her list of female GOATs, which included fellow Olympic champions Williams, Katie Ledecky, Alex Morgan, Sue Bird, Simone Manuel, Allyson Felix, Lindsey Vonn and Megan Rapinoe.

Biles has made it clear that whether or not she is the greatest of all time is not up to her. She often shies away from questions on the topic, instead choosing to focus on her mantra: ‘being the best Simone,’ an adage she learned from her mother Nellie.

It’s something she reiterated in a recent 60 Minutes interview.

"I wanna see how much I'm capable of," said Biles. "And people always question, like, 'If you're so good and you're so ahead of the game, why do you keep upgrading?' And it's like, because it's for me."

That self-motivation is what Biles says carried her through a difficult time in 2020 following the announcement that the Tokyo Olympic Games would be pushed back a year where she wasn't sure if she would or could continue on.

“I talked to my coaches and Cecile [Landi] especially was like, ‘You know what, Simone? You've trained so hard for this. Why would you give it up?’” she explained. “And I'm, like, ‘Yeah, you're right. Like I didn't come this far to only come this far.’”

No one can say just how far Biles will go. She’s already revolutionised her sport, introducing four new elements to the gymnastics rule book that now all bear her name. Biles says there could be two more new moves, including a Yurchenko double pike.

She certainly doesn’t need any new elements to win more Olympic gold, but it's all part of seeing just what is possible for her in the sport she's dominated for nearly a decade.

And, well, as Biles said with a laugh, because “I can.”