Simone Biles joined the ranks of gymnastics legends on Thursday with stardom awaiting the Cinderella who has overcome a difficult past to claim the coveted Olympic women’s all-around title for a second gold in Rio.
The 19-year-old Texan, whose life story is worthy of a Hollywood movie, etched her name alongside the greats of the sport such as Nadia Comaneci.
Comaneci, the 1976 Montreal gold medallist and first to earn a perfect 10.0 score, was like Biles coached by Romanian Martha Karolyi, who defected to the United States in 1981.
And Karolyi, who will retire after many years coaching the US’ top gymnasts after Rio, predicted great things for her young prodigy.
“I’m sure she will be a big star. She’ll be a millionaire,” said 73-year-old Karolyi.
“There are so many things she wants to do. She’s such a happy, smiley girl with a positive attitude.
“She told me she would take a year off and go to college.”
Biles was so dominant that she could have fallen twice and still romped to the all-around title.
Apart from a hop on the landing of her opening vault she gave a confident display of gravity-defying tumbles, twists and flips on her maiden Games to win by 2.100 points over US teammate Aly Raisman.
“Congratulations @Simone_Biles and @Aly_Raisman What a beautiful success…,” tweeted Comaneci, who was among the spectators in the Rio Olympic Arena.
Biles scored highest on three of four rotations — beam, vault and floor — to keep on track for a record haul of five gold at one Games with finals on those apparatus to come.
Five golds would see her overtake Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina (1956), Czech Vera Caslavska (1968) and Romanian Ecaterina Szabo (1984), who have all won four at the same Games.
As well as being the first to win three consecutive all-around world titles last October, she has won more world gold medals — 10 — than any other female gymnast in history.