The triple-double is a complicated move in gymnastics, one that requires two flips followed by three complete mid-air twists. When 22-year-old Simone Biles attempted one on Friday, the first day of the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City, she failed. In fact, no woman has ever successfully completed one in competition.
But Biles came back on Sunday, the third day of competition, and nailed it.It’s a historic maneuver and yet more evidence that Biles is pushing the boundaries of the sport. As the New York Times reports, the triple-double is so difficult that only two men have accomplished it in competition, and none of Biles’s competitors are even expected to pull off a double-double. According to the Wall Street Journal, gymnastics scoring works on a scale of A to I, with I being the highest possible rating. Biles is straining the limits of that scoring system. Per the Journal:Biles hasn’t lost an all-around competition since she was 16.
She took home four gold medals (team, all-around, floor, vault) and one bronze (balance beam) at the 2016 Olympics when she was 19. After Sunday’s performance, she took home her sixth gold medal at the U.S. nationals. At last year’s world championships, she earned such high scores for her technical proficiency that despite two falls and performing with kidney stones, she still won by the largest points margin in history.
Even a bad night for Biles is a historic one in the gymnastics world. On Friday night—when Biles first tried and failed to complete the triple-double—she became the first gymnast to ever attempt and land a double twisting, double somersault dismount from the balance beam, and the U.S. gymnastics team announced that the move will now be named after her. But when she was asked how she felt after that first night of competition, all Biles said was, “I just want to throw it in the trash and start over.”