Simone Biles had a goat and her last name in silver stones on the back of her leotard to open practice for this week’s U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
Justified. She is the greatest female gymnast of her era and very arguably in history for either gender. And the sport’s recognizable global superstar.
“I don’t want to be cocky or anything,” she said at training Wednesday in Kansas City. “My mom was really worried about the leo today. … I don’t think there will be anything bad [comments] except for some fans and some haters.”
Biles seeks a record-tying sixth national all-around title in Kansas City beginning Friday. The second and final day of women’s competition is Sunday, A full TV and live stream schedule is here.
Biles competed at her previous meet in July with her last name on the back of her leotard for the first time in recent memory, perhaps ever since she became a senior elite gymnast in 2013.
She clarified Wednesday that the rest of her gym mates from her family’s World Champions Centre in Texas were supposed to have names on their leotards at July’s U.S. Classic as well. But they ran into a problem. Another gymnast’s last name, Olivia Hollingsworth, was too long to fit.
“They already made mine and said we’ll keep yours, but we’ll put WCC on the back [of the other gymnasts’ leotards],” Biles said. “Then everybody [online critics] had a conniption. A lot of people loved it, but at the end of the day, I sat in the hotel room. My family said, why are you so upset? I was like, it’s literally my last name. I didn’t choose to be born. I didn’t choose to be given this last name. I was assigned this name, and people are so upset. And to me, it was almost like it was a little bit sexist as well because any sport has the last name on the [uniform], but if I had it there was a problem. Other jerseys in sports. Most are male. And so I feel like if females have it, they’re like, oh well, who does she think she is? And I got a lot of those comments that night. I didn’t think anything was wrong with it.”
Biles also said her leotard choices were to have fun with those who criticize her on social media, particularly those who hide behind fake names or no name at all.
“It’s not right that the haters can get all the jabs and we can’t jab back, like, kindly or nicely,” she said. “I have all the power now. They can say whatever.
“I thought it was just be cool. I thought it was unique. I hadn’t seen it. Let’s do something different.”
Other World Champions Centre gymnasts had their last names on their practice leotards Wednesday, Biles said, but everybody will be wearing the standard “WCC” on the back on Friday because of space restrictions.
“I’ve even seen some of the men in NCAA have it,” Biles said. “And I was like, but I’ve never seen a girl’s leo do it.”
Biles is undefeated in all-around competitions for more than six years, including a women’s record four world titles and her dominant Rio Olympic performance.
She made a statement with her leotard choice at last year’s nationals, Biles wore a teal mint design, sporting the color designated for sexual-abuse survivors. She came forward in January 2018 as a Larry Nassar survivor.
“Going into it, I felt like I would look very good in this color, and then everything kind of happened,” Biles said last year, after the most dominant performance in nationals history. “It is for the survivors, and I stand with all of them. I think it’s kind of special to unite.”
NBC Sports researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report from Kansas City.
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