The USA’s Simone Biles claimed her second gold medal of Rio 2016 when she won the women's gymnastics all-around title on 11 August, becoming the first woman in 20 years to win back-to-back world and Olympic all-around titles.
Biles took the gold with a total of 62.198, ahead of her compatriot Aly Raisman, who claimed silver, while Russia’s Aliya Mustafina took the bronze. The tears flowed freely down Biles’ face as she received her medal following a dazzling performance on the floor exercise.
An athlete who had been labelled the greatest-ever female gymnast, even before she made her Olympic debut, proved that the hype had not been misplaced as she swept to the title by a margin of 2.100 points.
Biles is the fourth successive American to win the title – following the successes of Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas – which is the longest winning streak by any country in the event.
When a stupendous score of 15.933 confirmed she had beaten Raisman, the coronation that had been in the planning stages ever since she won the first of a record three successive world titles in 2013 could finally take place.
Then the woman who had remained stoic throughout the previous two hours as she showcased her jaw-dropping skills across four apparatus finally let her guard down and burst into tears.
As the realisation hit home that she finally owned the biggest individual prize in the sport, the crowd saluted a gymnast who has provided so much entertainment at Rio 2016.
“Every emotion hit me at once so I was just kind of a train wreck,” Biles said after scooping her second gold in Rio following her success in the team final. “Everything was going through my head but mainly it was like I had finally done it and when that hits you, you can’t really stop the emotions.”
For Raisman, claiming silver with a total of 60.098 meant redemption after she suffered a gut-wrenching disappointment to miss out on the bronze four years ago to Russia’s Aliya Mustafina on the tie-break rule.
This time, the American was all smiles as she stood one step higher than Mustafina on the podium. “After the tie-break of 2012 it was heartbreaking and finally having that redemption after four years of working so hard and five times of trying in the all-around final at world championships and the Olympics, it’s really special to finally be on the podium,” she said.
But she was under no illusions which medal she had been aiming for. “No one goes in thinking they can beat Simone,” Raisman added. “People don’t go in thinking they can beat Usain Bolt, either. It’s kind of the same thing.”
As far as Biles was concerned, this latest success will not change who she is at all.
“I’m not a celebrity. I’m just Simone Biles, but it’s amazing to be recognised for all of this success for myself and for team USA. I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, I’m the first Simone Biles. To me, I’m just the same Simone. I just have two Olympic Gold medals now. I feel like I did my job tonight.”