For the first time since Dominique Dawes won a U.S. all-around title in 1994, gymnast Simone Biles has won all gold medals at the 2018 national championship, making her the only woman to win five national all-around titles in history.
Between 2013 and 2016, she won all championships' gold medals, but after a break before her incredible performance, she once again swept all five gold medals during this year's events.
The fact she had just gone back to gymnastics in the past nine months after a 23-month hiatus made her historical win even more awe-inspiring, a fact she confirmed on Twitter herself.
I’ve been back for only 9 months. I’m so proud of myself.— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) August 20, 2018
Wearing a teal leotard in honor of the sexual assault victims of former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, Biles made history by ascending to the top step of the podium five times.
During the presser after the major sweep, Biles explained that she had come up with the idea of wearing teal eight months ago, long before having any idea whether her post-Olympic comeback would be a successful one.
"[The color] is for the survivors," she explained. "I stand with all of them, and I think it's kind of special to unite."
Simone Biles is the first woman to win 5 national all-around titles at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. She wore a teal leotard — the color for sexual assault awareness and prevention. pic.twitter.com/aF30MFRK8q— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 20, 2018
Her win, which catapulted the 21-year-old to the front page of every major publication across the country, helped to remind the public of the abuse women and girls like her suffered silently for years, doing the job that USA Gymnastics president Kerry Perry failed to do during an interview hours before Biles made history.
After Perry couldn't directly respond whether the organization had planned on honoring the survivors at some point during the event, Biles became their voice.
Perry even tried to score some points with the media by saying she had interacted with Biles and her family after the scandal, a claim that was quickly dismissed by the athlete.
While Biles didn’t go into specifics regarding her own experience of abuse, she used gymnastics and fashion to send a bold message of support to sexual abuse survivors that her own organization failed to produce.
In the end, the gymnastics star reached a new level of excellence by sweeping all five gold medals with six points ahead of world champion Morgan Hurd, proving her abuser could have never broken her spirit despite the pain she suffered.
On Twitter, users were in awe of the athlete, celebrating her skills, dedication, and unrivaled courage.
Simone Biles wearing a teal leo tonight. Which also happens to be the color chosen to honor victims of sexual abuse.— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) August 20, 2018
SIMONE BILES IS MY HERO— Maggie Nichols (@MagsGotSwag12) August 20, 2018
Congratulations?? @Simone_Biles Is going to go down as one of the greatest olympians of all time at this rate????— XAY-BO (@L3gendInDaMakin) August 20, 2018
My 2.5 year old watched her bars routine with me last night and just kept yellin ‘WOW! Mommy she flying! Mommy she magic!’— Mamaste ?? (@AlKempkey) August 20, 2018
So nice to see a seasoned athlete come out and dominate. Not a single hint of nerves - just a beautiful air of confidence and joy emanating from her entire being throughout the competition. Coupled with being in top shape- this girl is unstoppable! Deep respect, @Simone_Biles!!!— Michelle Rice (@healer1982) August 20, 2018
Being the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history, Biles is one of the country’s most inspiring athletes, not just because of her history of abuse survival, but because of how she bounced back despite having claimed just a few months earlier that she was still not emotionally ready to face her abuser.
As the star readies for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, it’s exciting to see just how many more records she will break, all the while helping to spread awareness to sexual abuse through her work.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Dylan Martinez