There wasn’t any doubt that Simone Biles, the international gymnastics phenom, would be wearing our nation’s colors in Tokyo when the Summer Olympics at last returned. Five years and one pandemic-related postponement ago, Biles won four gold medals and a bronze in Rio de Janeiro and became the face of not just gymnastics but, to many in America, of the Olympic Games themselves.
The four-foot-eight 24-year-old now stands a very good chance of becoming the first female gymnast to hold back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the all-around category since 1968.
But when she stumbled Sunday night in the final round of the Olympic trials in St. Louis, Biles reminded us all that consistent performance at such extraordinary levels can never be taken for granted. She also demonstrated that the heart of a champion shines through in victory and in adversity. She fell off the beam, stepped out of bounds at one point and had a less than flawless run at the uneven bars. There she was in tears on national television.