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U.S. Gold Gymnast Simone Biles Keeps Rewriting The Record Book

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Simone Biles, already the most decorated gymnast in history, has surpassed expectations again. On Saturday, she performed a move considered so dangerous that no other woman has ever attempted it in competition.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN: The Yurchenko double pike vault.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Christine Brennan is a sports journalist with USA Today. She tells us that to do this vault, Biles had to launch herself into a roundoff, back handspring onto the vaulting table...

BRENNAN: And then propel her body into the air high enough to give herself time to flip twice in a pike position, which means your body is kind of folded into itself, your legs are out straight...

CHANG: And then land on her feet.

BRENNAN: She had so much power she actually stepped back.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Wow.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: But the judges didn't reflect the crowd's enthusiasm in points. They gave Biles a 6.6, a controversially low score which Biles called unfair for a vault this difficult.

CHANG: Brennan says part of the reason for that might be because judges don't want to encourage gymnasts to try this dangerous vault.

BRENNAN: The gymnastics leaders haven't seen this from a woman, and so they're actually downgrading it compared to what they should be doing. And what Simone Biles is doing at this point in her career is really rewriting the record book.

SHAPIRO: Simone Biles is now 24 years old. Brennan says that's retirement age for many professional gymnasts. Instead, Biles is still vaulting past her own achievements and doing things no one's ever done before.

(SOUNDBITE OF OSKAR SCHUSTER'S "FJARLAEGUR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.