American wins by individual all-round gymnastics gold

Margin of victory of 2.1 points was unprecedented


Winning margin bigger than combined margin of victories from 1980 to 2012

19-year-old is already the most decorated gymnast in history

Asked to describe herself in one word, she replied “Happy. Or hungry.” 
The tears flowed freely after Simone Biles’s jaw-dropping floor series, in which she leaps high enough to send her whole body through a basketball hoop. For all her success – and Biles is already the most decorated gymnast in history at the age of 19 – there is nothing quite like winning the individual all-around medal at the Olympic Games. 
Biles left the floor, where she ended her performance in a stretched-out position with one arm splayed dramatically above her head, and embraced her coach Aimee Boorman, who discovered her in a Houston gym 11 years ago. 
Biles has become almost unbeatable

Biles has become almost unbeatable CREDIT: REUTERS

“I think everything hit me at once and I realised that I had actually done it,” said Biles, with one of her ubiquitous giggles. “I’ve been dreaming of it for a couple of years now and I was just so excited.” 
Asked to describe herself in one word, she replied “Happy. Or hungry.” 
Unpredictability might be the lifeblood of sport, but there are certain events where everybody roots for the favourite. And a good thing too, in yesterday’s case. Because it was almost impossible to see how Biles might have come away without the gold medal. 

A fall off the bars or the beam wouldn’t have done it, for Biles’s difficulty scores are so dramatically superior to those of her rivals that it would have taken at least three such deductions to bring her back to the field. The only realistic obstacle would be a debilitating accident like the one suffered by Brazil’s Jade Barbosa – a mistimed tumble that brought her down hard on her knees and forced her out of the competition, her face frozen in a grimace of pain and heartbreak. 
Biles sets the bar too high for the competition 

Biles sets the bar too high for the competition CREDIT: AP

But such mistakes are unlikely to eventuate when the error margin on Biles’s moves is only an inch or two, where others can find themselves missing by a foot. Her extraordinary proprioception and air-sense can be seen in videos of her performing back-flips as a child.
Witnessing her now performing those flips on a 4in-wide beam, you can only conclude that she belongs in the Marvel universe – as an X-Woman, perhaps, or Black Widow from the Avengers. 
Inevitably, Biles romped to victory again last night, claiming the individual all-around title by a margin of 2.1 marks ahead of her American team-mate Aly Raisman.
The downside of her virtuosity is that she does take the suspense out of these events. But there are plenty of compensations in seeing the human body pushed to its absolute limit. Or beyond, in the case of at least 99.999 per cent of us. 
Biles dominated from start to finish in Rio

Biles dominated from start to finish in Rio CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Even the other gymnasts shake their heads, and no one else bothers attempting Biles’s double-twisting double-tuck dismount from the beam, nor the double backflip, double layout floor combination that is named after her.
“Watching Simone Biles is incredible,” said Ellie Downie, the only Briton who participated yesterday. “If I have already done my piece I’ll look around the arena and if she happens to be on I’ll watch.” 
It was hard to spot any infelicities in Biles’s performances yesterday, although the experts say she performs her vault – the Amanar – with crossed toes. In three of the four elements she topped the field, as she is expected to do in the individual finals on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The odd one out was the uneven bars, where she is not a strong medal contender owing to the lack of complex moves in her repertoire, and she finished seventh. 
For Downie, a strong start on floor and vault gave way to an erratic uneven bars routine and then a “hands down” penalty on her dismount from the beam. 
“I haven’t been able to train that dismount too much this week because I hurt my back in podium training and had to have a day off,” said Downie, who is 17. “Then in qualification I fell on my head and had to rest again the next day. 
“But looking at the scoreboard, if I added on my mistakes I’d actually be in the top three. So to know that is incredible. I’m so young and I have so much more to give.”