Simone Biles has struck gold again. The 19-year-old gymnast and five-time Olympic gold medalist earned AP’s Female Athlete of the Year title, winning 31 out of the 59 potential votes for the top honor.
The tiny powerhouse gymnast, standing at just 4 feet 8 inches tall, beat out fellow Olympian Katie Ledecky and tennis superstar Serena Williams for the title. Biles is the fifth gymnast to earn the distinction, joining her Final Five teammate Gabby Douglas, who won after her 2012 Olympic run.
Biles’ AP title continues her 2016 win streak, which was punctuated with her record-breaking performance at the Olympics in Rio. Biles made competing look easy, but her complex routines helped her earn four gold medals in the team and all-around competitions as well as the floor and vault exercise and a bronze balance beam medal.
Her 19 Olympic and World Championship medals solidify her as the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history.
Happy National Gymnastics’ Day! It didn’t always look like it would be possible for me to achieve my childhood dream to become a gymnastics champion. Thankful to my family and others who have supported me through the ups and downs of it all—I couldn’t have made it without you. Learn more about my journey in my book, Courage to Soar. Hope it inspires you to pursue your dream too. – http://bit.ly/2bVjUfQ
Biles spent the rest of the year doing casual things like releasing a book, Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance, covering Teen Vogue and Ebony, getting kisses from Zac Efron and hugging Beyonce. Luckily, Biles announced that she aims to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The honor came on the heels of Biles speaking out on her body image after haters took to the Internet to troll her. “I love it & I’m comfortable in my skin,” Biles said about her body in a tweet, letting the haters know they can’t bring this Olympian down.
you all can judge my body all you want, but at the end of the day it's MY body. I love it & I'm comfortable in my skin 🖤
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) December 28, 2016
By Anika Reed