Simone Biles has revolutionized the form - strength and acrobatics have left the gymnastics of the perfection of technical gesture as the absolute goal in the background - and the background of female artistic gymnastics, and gymnasts are no longer girls who shut up in fear, but women with a voice.
And the athletes are happy.
And when they hear the word gymnastics, most people associate it with the image of a woman jumping on a rack or capering on the floor with springs in a gymnasium, and not with that of a Christ in the rings like Blume or a Japanese feline on the hoops of a horse.
“Thanks to Simone, you start to see how people say to you, oysters, gymnastics, how cool…”, says Spanish gymnast Laura Bechdeju. "She is unattainable as a champion, but she does not eclipse us, on the contrary, she gives us more light, and we are working to one day be able to eclipse others, or our country ... Thanks to her, it is becoming known that gymnastics is very cool" .
Women's gymnastics has changed. Coaches have changed and the way they treated athletes in most cases of childhood age, and gymnasts have changed, now masters of their self-esteem and of the word. They have abolished the much admired model of Bela Karolyi, the coach who by dint of physical blows and moral and public humiliations more akin to bullying than a healthy relationship, revolutionized training methods, produced the phenomenal Nadia Comaneci and became reference for coaches around the world, former gymnasts themselves raised and matured with the same treatment that put as number one the almost anorexic thinness of gymnasts and the consideration of food as poison.
"Simone has taken women's gymnastics out of lifelong stereotypes, out of the orbit," says Spanish Olympian Marina González.
“You can be tall, short, smaller, older… Today [last Sunday] we have competed Chusovitina, with 46 years, and girls of 16 who also give us a review of some… The good thing about gymnastics is that, you can be of any physical type or age, you can do whatever you want ”.
It all started in 2016 with a scandal in the United States, the complaint of sexual abuse to the North American team doctor Larry Nassar against whom more than 260 gymnasts dared to testify, in a trial that ended with a sentence of more than 200 years in prison. .
The voices raised a wind that traveled around the world releasing the languages of gymnasts in different countries that they had never dared to denounce, and one gymnast above all, the number one, the best in history, was not left out. Simone Biles finally declared that she had also suffered abuse by Nassar and promised to continue in gymnastics among other things to help all gymnasts to speak and be heard, and to denounce all authorities who allowed and encouraged such conduct . It would be unthinkable now the lack of support suffered by the Spanish gymnast Gloria Viseras for a few years when she denounced the abuse to which she had been subjected by coach Jesús Carballo. His voice barely echoed, and minimal support,stifled by official voices and the federation's refusal to deepen the investigation.
Simone Biles is the only Nassar victim still active. She is the leader whom everyone looks at, whom they admire for her physical and psychological strength. In April 2020, Biles was training when the postponement of the Games was officially announced. He says that he immediately went to a corner of the gym and began to cry. He didn't look like he could last another year. He spent days of depression, lack of sleep, sadness. He traveled, bought a house, got a boyfriend, forgot about gymnastics for a few weeks, and came back, although a little question always pierces his cerebellum constantly and he sometimes tells it: “Outside of gymnastics, who am I? I'm still looking for myself ”.
Like Simone Biles, Rebeca Andrade is black, and like the Olympic champion so many times, she has gone through moments of depression, crying, the desire to quit gymnastics, an addiction. In his case, due to the numerous injuries, tears of the knee ligaments. The last, during the 2019 Stuttgart World Cups, which left the Brazilian team out of Tokyo. She is as an individual participant. And, like all the other gymnasts in the world, Andrade, 22, more than anything else, admires Biles, for whom she would almost give her life. And he admires her not only as a gymnast, but also for her way of being the best gymnast in history, for the generosity she shows carrying the weight of speaking for all black women, for her will to change the world. A wish to which it adds.
“She is an incredible athlete, who represents many of us and who makes the eyes of many black girls in Brazil shine, makes them fight, and what she represents for me, I, and my colleagues Lorraine and Daiane dos Santos, want to be for the others, ”says Andrade, who conquers television audiences on Sunday night with a floor exercise to the funk rhythm, and very Brazilian, of the
Dance of the favelas,
by MC Joao, church organ version, the gymnast's nod to her mother, a fervent evangelical, a statement of principles. "MC Joao is from São Paulo, like me, and I identify a lot," says the Guarulhos gymnast, and she is so solid in the other apparatus that she gets like a wedge, second, between Biles and her compatriot Sunisa Lee, in the qualifying for the final of the full contest on Thursday, apart from entering the floor and jumping finals. “Now, even more so, I get a lot of messages from mothers saying that we needed this presence of black gymnasts. And I especially admire Simone for all that she endures. His psychology has to be very strong ”.
Some of the best Brazilian gymnasts are black as they are black, thanks to Biles' determination, determined that their sport ceases to be a thing of good girls, blonde, of good family, many of the girls who prepare in the World Champions Center the gym in Spring, Texas, owned by her mother, where the champion trains.
"Without Biles, the sport would not be as diverse as it is and how it will be," writes Juliet Macur in the
New York Times,
who says that she visited the center and was surprised by the number of girls "of color" who came there from all walks of life. parts of the United States.
Among others, Jordan Chiles, who is part of the United States team in Tokyo, is prepared there.
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