Simone Biles soars to top as AP’s 2019 Female Athlete of the Year

They’re called “Simone Things,” a catchall phrase for the casual ease with which Simone Biles seems to soar through her sport and her life.

The irony, of course, is that there’s nothing casual or easy about it. Any of it. The greatest gymnast of all time and 2019 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year only makes it seem that way.

Those jaw-dropping routines that are rewriting her sport’s code of points and redefining what can be done on the competition floor? Borne from a mix of natural talent, hard work and a splash of ego.

The 25 world championship medals, the most by any gymnast ever? The result of a promise the 22-year-old made to herself when she returned to competition in 2017 after taking time off following her golden run at the 2016 Olympics.

She is the first gymnast to be named AP Female Athlete of the Year twice and the first to do it in a non-Olympic year.

Biles edged U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe in a vote by AP member sports editors and AP beat writers. Skiing star Mikaela Schiffrin placed third, with WNBA MVP Elena Della Donne fourth. Biles captured the award in 2016 following a showstopping performance at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where she won five medals in all, four of them gold.

Check social media following one of her routines and you’ll find people, from LeBron James to Michelle Obama to Chrissy Teigen, struggling to distill what they’ve witnessed into 280 characters or fewer, with whatever they settle on typically followed by multiple exclamation points and a goat emoji, a nod to Biles being considered the Greatest Of All Time.

A look at gymnast Simone Biles, in photos