Performer Simone Biles earns third consecutive AP Female Athlete of the Year honor

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When Simone Biles came onto the floor at a suburban Chicago arena in late July for her first gymnastics competition in two years, she was aware that a lot of people were curious about how the competition was going to go.

“Don’t worry, I thought that too,” Biles added with a giggle. “I thought that too.”

At the conclusion of one rotation, the gymnast who holds the record for the most medals ever won realized that she had returned to her “safe space.” A national champion by the time the month of August came to a close. Once more. She became a global champion by the month of October. Once more.

And by the end of the year, she had been named the Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press.

Biles became the sixth woman in history to win the Associated Press award for a third time; her victorious return included a record-breaking eighth U.S. national title as well as a sixth gold medal in the world all-around competition.

Caitlin Clark, a basketball standout from Iowa, and Aitana Bonmati, a member of the Spanish soccer team that won the World Cup, were the individuals who came in second and third, respectively, in the voting conducted by a group of sports media experts. The 26-year-old athlete has won seven Olympic medals.

Simone Biles earns third consecutive AP Female Athlete

And to think that she wasn’t really sure what was going to happen to her on that June night in front of a packed arena that was supporting her at every turn, a response that she claims she didn’t anticipate.

She was earning a bronze medal on the balance beam at the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after a turbulent two weeks in which her decision to pull out of multiple finals due to “the twisties” (think mid-air vertigo) dragged the sometimes uncomfortable conversation about athletes and their mental health into the white-hot spotlight that only the Games provide. The last time Biles had saluted the judges, she was doing so at the end of the Olympics.

While she received almost unanimous praise for her bravery in prioritizing her own safety, a cursory examination of her mentions on social media revealed that not everyone was in agreement with her decision.

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Immediately following the event, she went into what she referred to as a “protective shell” and took a two-year break from her career. The more she delved into therapy, the more she looked forward to a return on her own terms.

Nevertheless, that did not prevent feelings of self-doubt from surfacing. The only difference was that this time, rather than allowing the fear to eat away at her self-assurance, she accepted its presence, took a deep breath, and put on the kind of show that is uniquely hers and hers alone from now on.

During the competition, Biles stated, “I did a lot better than I thought I would do.”

The same as it actually was.

There were instances in Biles’s life that she hardly recognizes, such as when she received the Associated Press award in 2016 and 2019.

Her performance at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which made her a household name, occurred when she was still a teenager. Continuing to reside in the same house as her parents. When she was younger, her entire life centered around the spaceship of a gym that her family had constructed in the suburbs of Houston.

When she finds herself thinking about it, she can’t help but give a slight shake of her head. According to Biles, she was under the impression that the only time she had was to train and, if she was lucky, get her nails done.

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The situation is no longer like that. As a matter of fact, she has made it a priority to ensure that the sport that she has redefined does not now define her.

During the spring, Biles tied the knot with Jonathan Owens, a safety for the Green Bay Packers.

Her time is divided between attending Packers games when her schedule permits, working with her corporate partners, and taking the time to carefully examine the specifics of the house that she and her husband are in the process of constructing.

“I didn’t know what I was expecting,” said Biles, who commended the individuals she has surrounded herself with for believing in her when she was still struggling to believe in herself.

“I didn’t know what I was expecting,” she said. Many individuals responded by saying, “No, we’ve seen you in training; this is exactly what was supposed to take place.”

Furthermore, what was anticipated to take place in a short amount of time turned out to be something that has nearly always taken place ever since Biles started bending the standards of her sport to her whim.

It wasn’t simply that she triumphed; it was also the manner in which she did so. Her gravity-defying and complicated tumbling has come to be performed with greater precision. In spite of the fact that she has been competing at the highest level for a decade, her routines for all four events continue to be extremely challenging.

In no other aspect of gymnastics is this difficulty more apparent than on vault, when she made history by becoming the first woman to do a Yurchenko double-pike in an international competition.

It is now the sixth element to carry her name in the sport’s code of points, and the move, which is a spectacular combination of force and more than a little bravery, is the one that got her there.

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