Simone Biles competes on the balance beam at the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships on Aug. 9, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Rarely in the four-ring circus that is a gymnastics meet does the collective attention of the building focus in on one apparatus. Simone Biles is the exception to this rule, and never was that truer than at the 2019 U.S. championships.
Everyone knew what might be coming.
Videos released on social media had shown the Olympic champ practicing not one but two unprecedented skills. The audacious, dizzying feats had always been presented as the gymnast having fun at practice. By Aug. 9, 2019, however, word had circulated that Biles was planning to break them out in competition.
As the national championships got underway that night in Kansas City, Missouri, Biles did just that.
Beginning the evening on floor exercise, the dynamo punctuated her first tumbling pass by launching herself in the air for a triple twisting, double backflip. The maneuver was executed with so much power that Biles returned to the floor and bounced up like on a pogo stick, then had to set her hands down to avoid falling over.
It wasn’t perfect; nonetheless she was officially the first woman to land the triple-double.
And she wasn’t done.
On what proved to be an atypically rusty night for Biles, the 22-year-old nonetheless racked up more points than anyone before wrapping up on balance beam. Again, with the eyes of the crowd honing in, the Texan connected two back handsprings before dismounting with a double twisting, double backflip: aka the double-double. This time she landed it with just the tiniest of hops — and the biggest of smiles. History was made again.
The meet wasn’t going to be complete without the clean triple-double, though.
In a clip shown generously in promotion for the Tokyo Olympics, Biles went for it again on Aug. 11, the second and final night of competition. Dressed in a sharp, sparkly black leotard, the defending Olympic champ posed in one corner, then charged toward the other. From a roundoff and back handspring, she flew through as high as 10 feet into the air, spinning three times while flipping twice, all while keeping her body in tight form. And this time she landed it cleanly.
“It’s historical,” U.S. women’s high-performance team coordinator Tom Forster said afterward. “It’s like she hit a hole in one and we were all there.”
A few weeks later, Biles cemented the skills in the sport’s code of points when she again performed both cleanly at the world championships in Germany. In gymnastics, the first person to complete a skill at a major international competition has that skill named for them. As such, both the triple-double and double-double are now named the Biles (or, in the case of floor, the Biles II).
On the one-year anniversary of Biles’ historic weekend in Kansas City, we take a look at all of the history the gymnast, still just 23, has already made in the sport.