Simone Biles is Associated Press’ Female Athlete of the Year

They’re called “Simone Things,” a catchall phrase for the ease with which Simone Biles seems to soar through her sport and her life.

The irony is there’s nothing casual or easy about it. The greatest gymnast of all time and 2019 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year only makes it seem that way.

Those routines that are rewriting her sport’s code of points and redefining what can be done on the competition floor? Born from a mix of talent, hard work and a splash of ego.

The 25 world championship medals, most by any gymnast ever? The result of a promise the 22-year-old made to herself when she returned to competition in 2017 after taking time off after her golden run at the 2016 Olympics.

The stoicism and grace she has shown in becoming an advocate for survivors — herself included — and an agent for change in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal that’s rocked USA Gymnastics? The byproduct of a conscious decision to embrace the clout she carries.

“I realize now with the platform I have it will be powerful if I speak up and speak for what I believe in,” Biles said. “It’s an honor to speak for those that are less fortunate.”

It’s that mission — combined with her otherworldly skill and boundless charisma — that has enabled Biles to keep gymnastics in the spotlight, a rarity for a sport that typically retreats into the background once the Olympic flame goes out. She is the first gymnast to be named AP Female Athlete of the Year twice and the first to do it in a non-Olympic year.

Will Graves is an Associated Press writer.

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