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Simone Biles’ drive for innovation is disappointed by her own island sport | Tokyo Olympic Games 2020

In the last fleeting month before the Olympics, two of the best gymnasts in the world demonstrated similar uneven bars skills at the highest level of difficulty just days apart for the first time. Both Sanne Wevers and Nina Derwael performed slightly different variations of the iconic Nabieva release, in which the gymnasts fell over and over the bar with their legs straight before doing a half-turn in the air and then catching them on the other side .

But great difficulty often has its price. Derwael flexed her feet and arched her hips to overcome the bar, then “cheated” on her half-turn. Wevers’ variant was more difficult, but her bent legs spread across the bar in all directions. This is all a normal sight. When gymnasts push their limits with the toughest skills, legs cross, chest sags on landing, the spins are not fully performed, and the judges rate each downward deduction.

Such form prints always come to mind when Simone Biles skips her amazing Yurchenko double pike, precisely because she does not produce them. The jump is one of the most difficult skills in women’s gymnastics history and remains a nerve-wracking sight, but every time Biles performed it, her technique has been unassailable. Your body position as you enter the safe is as straight as an arrow. Your legs are packed tightly together. The height and distance she creates are phenomenal and she lands with her chest held high.

Somehow, even her few flaws are impressive. When Biles unveiled the vault at the US Classic in May, their landings in training and warming up were spectacular. But in competition she took two big steps backwards. When she’s nervous, Biles tends to overstep her greatest skills to make sure she lands them, which is remarkable. While no other gymnast can do it, Biles has extra strength.

Creating another new skill is again tied to drama. After the Women’s Technical Committee (WTC) of the International Gymnastics Federation awarded Biles’ double-double descent on the bar an illogical value in 2019, Biles was again disappointed with the value of 6.6 that her jump received, in contrast to the 6, 8 that she had hoped for.

Amid the outrage of those who parachute into the sport every four years, the issues have also been carefully analyzed by publications like the balance beam situation, which suggested that the score is a little low, should probably be higher, but not like that is clear as her descent from the bar and also the huge historical context that Dvora Meyers provides.

Biles is understandably frustrated by a sport that for the past eight years has sometimes seemed to endure its success instead of accepting it. The word artistry, an endless discussion point in the sport, has often been used against their gymnastics style.

Many prominent personalities have made little effort to hide their ambivalence towards her. Noting that former WTC President Nellie Kim previously expressed her disapproval of “athletic” gymnastics and “the Canadians of Cirque du Soleil” [who] teach the whole world “gymnastics, her answer in 2019, when asked if Biles upgrades the sport, came as no surprise:” I don’t know if it is right to say upscale gymnastics. But I can tell you for sure that she uses the current point code in full. “

Simone Biles trains on the balance beam at the Ariake Gymnastics Center in Tokyo.Simone Biles trains on the balance beam at the Ariake Gymnastics Center in Tokyo. Photo: Richard Ellis / UPI / Rex / Shutterstock

What is clear is that Biles’ excellence exposed the WTC’s ineptitude. Instead of trying to create a points code that would allow a multitude of different types of gymnasts to be successful, it has tried to construct it with its own preferences, which almost always focus on the nostalgia for gymnastics of the past. The control it puts on the sport extends beyond skill to the “humility” of gymnast makeup.

The result is that the Code of Points is illogical, inconsistent and certainly not open-ended, as it is described, since from 2006 routines are no longer rated with 10 points. Certain innovative skills are undervalued, as are biomechanically more difficult skills than others. One of the frustrating consequences is that routines are often very similar and leave little room for individuality.

Examples of the WTC’s driving back of innovation span decades. In 1996 they ousted Liu Xuan’s one-armed giant on the uneven bars. The Croatian gymnast Tanja Delladio, who debuted the unique “snap-down” technique on parallel bars in 2006, elicited a rare, blunt comment from the WTC in her newsletter, which underlined its modus operandi: “The WTC is not ready for these types of elements Wevers’ Nabieva ½ variation in June was the most recent example of the silly code in action, as its ability is rated the same as objectively less difficult release skills.

The safe alone is certainly not worth it. Biles won both US championships and Olympic tests without risking it, and her trainer Laurent Landi expressed clear doubts whether she would make it to On Her Turf: “People seem to forget that it’s a very, very dangerous skill is … [in] the code of points, it’s not enough. ”In qualifying or event finals, she certainly won’t do that.

However, she showed it at the podium training in Tokyo on Thursday. On the first try, Biles flew into the sky, but she turned the vault over and decided to roll out of it. She returned for a second attempt, which she easily got to her feet with a simple step backwards.

That she doesn’t have to do it makes it even more valuable. It is a reflection of her development from a formidable teenager eight years ago to a woman who understands her own size and the strength to carry herself accordingly. Biles has spent the last four years looking beyond their competition and instead pushing themselves to their limits and it has been beautiful. “I’m trying to be better than the last time I met, so I’m trying to beat myself,” Biles recently told NBC.

That will be one of the big rivalries of this year’s games – Simone versus Simone – and this may be the last time it is ever seen. It should be enjoyed accordingly.

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