After a year in which she won her record 25th world championships medal, staking a claim to the title of most decorated gymnast of all time, it is no wonder Simone Biles was named Female Athlete of the Year Thursday by the Associated Press.
The four-time Olympic gold medalist has made success at the world championships look easy throughout her career, but stepped her game up even more in 2019. The 22-year-old won five gold medals, tying the record for most won at a single world championships and taking her career medal total to 25, the most of any gymnast, male or female. Biles also won her sixth consecutive all-around national championship in 2019.
Biles is considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all time not only for her lofty medal totals but the way she’s changed the sport. The triple-double, on floor exercise, and double-double balance beam dismount skills she deployed at the world championships now bear her name, and the latter is so difficult that the International Gymnastics Federation had to lower its value to discourage other gymnasts from taking the risk.
Awarded since 1931, Female Athlete of the Year is voted on by Associated Press writers and editors. Biles wins the award for the second time, having also won following her spectacular Olympic debut at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. She is the first gymnast to receive the honor twice and first to be selected in a non-Olympic year. Biles is the fifth U.S. Olympian in a row to win the award, and the 12th American in a row overall.