hinds Michael Kors

May 31, 2017

The Gymternet spends considerable time discussing the ages of promising gymnasts—“She peaked when she was about 14.5”—because many gymnasts retire around the time that professional athletes in other sports are beginning their careers. “It’s such a short window,” Boorman said. “You’re washed up even before you’re old enough to know you’re washed up.” Olga Korbut has blamed her failure to challenge Comaneci in 1976 in part on her changing body, while Bela Karolyi once said he wouldn’t train a gymnast because she hadn’t yet emerged from “the storm of puberty.” Gymnasts prefer to grow either early or late—Biles has barely grown since she was thirteen—and although being tall is not a death sentence, a spurt at the wrong time can force a gymnast to relearn each of her flips and twists with weight in different places. Kyla Ross, who was the youngest member of the 2012 Olympic team, had hoped to compete in Rio, but she grew four and a half inches and retired from élite gymnastics earlier this year, at the age of nineteen. Lanna Apisukh, the 1992 U.S. junior national champion, was on track to make the 1996 Olympics until puberty hit, and she suffered a series of pulled hamstrings, rolled ankles, and stress fractures, which required cortisone shots in her elbow. “It’s harder to twist through the air when you have hips and boobs,” she told me, over beers in Brooklyn, where she is now the marketing director at a technology company.

Biles insists that she doesn’t dream about the Olympics. “Everyone else does that for me,” she said. The American team is expected to win gold, and, barring injury, Biles will be the overwhelming favorite on both the floor and the balance beam, as well as in the all-around competition, where her combined level of difficulty is so much higher than that of her competitors that the Gymternet believes she could fall twice and still win gold. She is unlikely to win a medal on the uneven bars, which is her weakest event—she once finished fourth at the World Championships—meaning that the most serious obstacle on her quest for five golds is the vault.

Biles insists that she doesn’t dream about the Olympics. “Everyone else does that for me,” she said. The American team is expected to win gold, and, barring injury, Biles will be the overwhelming favorite on both the floor and the balance beam, as well as in the all-around competition, where her combined level of difficulty is so much higher than that of her competitors that the Gymternet believes she could fall twice and still win gold. She is unlikely to win a medal on the uneven bars, which is her weakest event—she once finished fourth at the World Championships—meaning that the most serious obstacle on her quest for five golds is the vault.

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