Simone Arianne Biles is an American artistic gymnast. With a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, Biles is tied as the most decorated gymnast of all time. Biles’ seven Olympic medals also ties Shannon Miller for the most Olympic medals won by an American female gymnast. she’s undoubtedly the G.O.A.T of gymnastics, but at her current age of 24 years, its no surprise that the search for a successor has begun. Here are candidates that might replace her.
Team USA’s gold-medal gymnastics champion Sunisa “Suni” Lee is an 18-year-old Minnesota native who secured the top prize in the all-around contest during her Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Lee earned a spot in the all-around contest after placing third in the qualifying event but she wasn’t expected to take home the gold while competing beside the GOAT, Simone Biles.
However, Biles, 24, bowed out of the all-around contest after suddenly dropping out of the team finals the day before, due to struggles with her mental health — setting off a free-for-all where the gold was suddenly in reach for Lee and her competition.
In Biles’ absence, Lee rose to the challenge and secured Team USA’s gold medal-winning streak in the all-around competition, which the women’s gymnastics team has dominated every year since the 2004 Athens Olympics when Carly Patterson snagged the top spot.
Lee grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where there is a large Hmong community and has long dreamed of being the first Hmong Olympian, and that wish finally came true for her. “It would be the greatest accomplishment of any Hmong person in the US ever,” her dad previously told Elle for a profile story on the star gymnast.
Lee has been a bundle of talent from a very young age, her coach, Koy previously told The Post he watched Lee execute a front aerial to back handspring stepout on the high beam at 9 years old — a move that helped Gabby Douglas win gold in London in 2012.
“She had that really quick-twitch good power,” recalled Koy, who still coaches at the gym. “That just came naturally. And she has this fearlessness about her.”
Lee soon caught the attention of Jess Graba, a coach at Midwest Gymnastics, who has been training her ever since. “It was super raw and she was just a little kid, but she had some talent,” Graba told Elle, recalling when they met. “Her flips were kind of crazy — she had been practicing in her yard — and she clearly had some ability to go upside down without fear.”
When Lee was 14, she joined the US junior national team in 2016 and traveled around the world for competitions. By 2018, she’d won the gold medal at the National Championships on the uneven bars — her best event — and a year later, came within four-tenths of a point of beating Biles at the US World Championships selection camp.
Jade Carey, 21, is a 5’1″ Phoenix native competing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. This week, Carey qualified for the Sunday, Aug. 1 floor exercise and vaulting. After Simone Biles withdrew from the individual all-around, it was announced that Carey would take her place in the competition, alongside Suni Lee.
In 2017, Carey officially signed to Oregon State University but deferred enrollment to pursue the chance to win Olympic gold. She is expected to join the OSU Gymnastics team for the 2022 season. Carey told Inside Gymnastics Magazine that she has already begun taking classes. “I’m sad I won’t be able to be up in Oregon this year, but I’ve been in touch with the coaches a lot, and they’ve been great helping me set a new plan,” Carey told the outlet. “I’m going to start some classes so that I will have some classes done before I get there.”
Carey also revealed that vault is her favorite event, per PopSugar. In 2016, Carey had a skill named after her called “The Carey” in the Junior Olympic Code of Points, which is also referred to as “tucked Kasamatsu full.”
Carey and her father, Brian, are a gymnastic father and daughter duo. Since her parents owned a gym when she was growing up, Carey was around the sport from a young age.
She went on to say how proud she is of her daughter. “The whole experience has just been amazing! I am so proud of her and her accomplishments on this wonderful journey! I was so excited about her going out and hitting all four routines in the biggest competition of her life!!” she told the outlet. “I was even more proud of her character and the way she presented herself on the competition floor. The sacrifices she has made, her strong work ethic, her dedication to this difficult sport, and her perseverance are all the qualities that helped shape her into the athlete she is today!”
Carey’s mother talked about how Jade’s passion for gymnastics started when she was a toddler. “I believe she was about four years old; her dad and I were watching TV, and all of a sudden, oop, there goes a cartwheel,” she explained. “We looked at each other, and I said, ‘Did you teach her that?’ and he said, ‘No, did you?’ and I said ‘no,’ and so I think we kind of knew at that point.”
On August 2, Carey’s lifelong dream finally came true as she won gold in the women’s individual floor exercise. She scored 14.366, which gave the U.S. women’s team their fifth medal at the Tokyo games. Olympian Simone Biles gave Carey a pep talk before her performance and told her to “go out and kill floor [exercise],” per CNN.
The day before, Carey placed eighth in the vault final. “Coming back from a day like yesterday, I’m really proud of myself for being able to put that behind me and finish with probably the best floor routine I’ve ever done in my life,” the gymnast told reporters.
She continued, “Yesterday was very tough for me. I tripped, I guess, in my hurdle, or right before. I don’t even know. It’s kind of a blur now. It was really hard, but I’m glad I’m safe and healthy. Doing that second vault, it was a challenge, but I didn’t want to give up. For tonight, I just had to let that go and give it my all.”