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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

If I could be any athlete for a day, it would be supremely gifted gymnast Simone Biles 

Angela Tan
Flying over the vault, my childhood self would finally fulfill her gymnastics dream.

One spring day in high school, I wake up with five times more muscle and a miraculous energy in my step. I run to the mirror and flash my confident, pearly smile while admiring my toned calves. 

Somehow, I have magically become Simone Biles for just one day.

I’m not sure if I’m dreaming after a long week of calculus homework, or if the quick stretch before bed triggered a nerve. Regardless, this new identity is a dream come true for my 8-year-old self, who fell in love with gymnastics just like Biles did. 

Unfortunately, my gymnastics journey ended far earlier and less successfully.

I still remember when I stood in a line behind several other fourth-grade girls, preparing for a vault flip that would determine our potential in competitive gymnastics. Between the starting line and the vault springboard, 50 feet of blue mat stretched out like a hostile sea. 

I couldn’t overcome it. Three times, I ran with all my might toward the vault, only to sheepishly stop a few feet shy. My instructor shook her head, steering me to the back of the line to watch as the next girl — one no doubt tougher and more determined — proved her superior skills. 

I snap back to reality in Biles’s body. I am suddenly the most decorated American gymnast, with 30 World Championship medals and seven Olympic medals hanging from my walls. At 26 years old, I have broken a 90-year record by becoming the first to win eight national all-around titles, proving my excellence in everything and anything in gymnastics. 

Finally, in her ideal frame and weight for a gymnast (4’ 8” and 104 pounds), I have a chance to redeem myself in a sport that I was passionate for but never talented in. With my achievements reaffirming my newfound confidence and strength, I run outside to rev up my Range Rover Velar, one of the five cars I own. 

Forget breakfast. The gym is where I belong.

Ten minutes later, I stand in front of the expanse of chalk-dusted bars and sturdy balance beams. I confidently kick aside the blue triangle blocks for beginner handsprings and shove away the red octagon mats for beginner back walkovers. 

From the moment she fell in love with gymnastics, Biles had an excellent work ethic and endured the hardest part of the initial learning curve. Adults around her noticed that she had “natural strength and high energy” and “an unusual degree of physical daring.” At 14, she made a huge sacrifice to become homeschooled so that she could train for six to eight hours a day. On the contrary, I NEVER had enough willpower to turn down a sugary boba run with my friends. 

With a running start, I launch into the floor routine that won the “all-around” in the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, Biles’s record-tying sixth national title. Her famous triple-double move — which rotates around the hips twice while also rotating about a vertical axis three times — fulfills an abandoned aspiration in my childhood self, who never tried airborne moves because of fear.

I must have given in too easily to the people who didn’t believe in me. Unlike me, Simone Biles never backed down; in the 2013 U.S. Classic, 16-year old Biles lost control during her beam routine, causing onlookers to believe that she was psychologically weak. Still, she learned to ignore others’ expectations and enjoy her performance in the moment. 

To conclude my time in Biles’s body, I turn to the vault. The same intimidating blue runway stretches out before me, but this time, I see success at the end. I know that instead of shying away at the vault table, I’ll finally be able to flip over it. 

Grinning with the energy that only Simone has, I take a deep breath and sprint toward the vault. In half a second, my hands make contact with the leather; in the next two seconds, I perform a Yurchenko double pike with two roundoffs and full flips — the seemingly physics-defying skill that Biles was the first woman to succeed in at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Belgium. 

I whistle a tune as I wipe off my sweat. Somehow, I spent the whole day at the gym and it’s already 7 p.m. On the way home, I grab a milkshake at the local drive-through. 

While I would pay a lot of money to actually be Simone Biles for only one day, I know full well I could never achieve her lofty heights, making me forever destined to be nothing but a passionate fan.

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