Yesterday, the New York Times posted this astonishing composite photo of gymnast Simone Biles performing an Amanar, one of the most difficult vaults, at the Olympics in Brazil. We are especially interested because we love leaps of all kinds; to us they are the visual metaphor for risk taking, having faith, taking on challenges, attempting to FLY.

And watching this video makes us realize that Biles does indeed fly, talent and practice making for extraordinary grace and control (Video link here.) Note, it’s WORTH enduring the ad to see Biles doing the Amanar in slow motion at 2:23.

But we wondered what such leaping and flying was like from Biles’ point of view. We were struck by this insight in Reeves Wiedeman’s recent profile of Biles in the New Yorker:

Like most athletes, Biles is not illuminating on the subject of her own gifts. “I kind of blow my own mind,” she has said. “I wish I could crawl out of my skin and see it happen from a different perspective.

People say I’m the best, but I still don’t think that,” Biles said. “I guess if I go to the Olympics and do well, maybe I’ll believe it.”

It was surprising to hear a top athlete admit to doubt, but Nellie Biles [Bile’s mother] said that the uncertainty went back to Simone’s complaint that she couldn’t watch herself do the things that she does.


No matter what leap we are taking, we often can’t see its scope and difficulty and just what mighty talent and training and courage it requires, and how high we are trying to fly.

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2 replies on “The Magnitude of Our Leaps Eludes Us (Simone Biles)

  1. I was astonished to learn that this fearless wonder “…could be world class on the uneven bars, the only event in which she is not the gold=medal favorite, but that for a long time Biles was too scared of the bars to commit to the apparatus.” Gives me courage that fears can be conquered!

  2. Thank you so much for that.
    And in my researches yesterday, I learned that the original routine she created that is known as “The Biles” involved a unique twist so that she could not land too hard on an injured foot. Improvisation of something totally new in response to a need…

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