To speak of the past and present of Gymnastics is to remember Nadia Comaneci of Romania at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, and to be surprised by the current situation of Simone Biles of the United States, who sealed her ticket to participate in Tokyo 2020 and at 24 years of age, she is shaping up to be one of the best gymnasts in history.
One has undoubted supremacy and the other an accuracy which no one could match. Both have spent their Olympic careers competing against time and themselves rather than against the competition. Comparisons between the two are inevitable, however, each gymnast responds to a time in which the sport has evolved.
While Biles will aim to become the first in women's gymnasts in more than 50 years to become an Olympic champion for the second time in a row when she walks in front of the world in Tokyo, let's take a look at here legacy and the one of Nadia Comaneci's from another period of time.
Simone Biles: The greatest Olympic gymnast of all time?
After appearing at her first Olympic Games in Rio 2016, Simone Biles has managed to enter the category of Olympic legends. The United States gymnast captivated the world with her smile and technique in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2016, her routines earned her four gold medals in individual and team all-around competitions, floor exercises, and vault. In addition, she earned the bronze on the balance beam, a test in which Comaneci grabbed no other result than the golden metal. For the Tokyo Olympics, Biles will be one of the athletes to watch.
She could surpass Nadia Comaneci in gold metals and in the same way, she could pass her in the total of Olympic medals, since four podiums are enough to reach her. The evolution of sports is so remarkable and gymnastics is no exception. The disciplines have changed over the years and now, the technical difficulty is getting higher, so Simone Biles has a bigger challenge in the Japanese capital to aim for a spot above Comaneci.
Nadia Comaneci: The greatest Olympic gymnast of all time?
At 14 years old, Nadia Comaneci achieved perfection. She made it to the Montreal Olympics to go down in history after hitting the perfect 10 on the uneven bars and after that, she couldn't stop doing it. The Romanian gymnast continued to add perfect grades to win three gold medals.
She also climbed to the top of the podium in the individual all-around and balance beam competitions, adding to her achievements a medal silver and a bronze to close the 1976 Games as the most outstanding athlete by winning five medals at a young age.
Four years later, at the 1980 Moscow Games, Comaneci added two more gold medals to her legacy. Again, she turned out to be the best one on the balance beam, and on the floor, exercises were named after her as well. In addition, she left with two silver medals to close her Olympic cycle with a total of nine medals.
Today the format of the Olympic score system is somewhat different, as gymnasts will now be granted the most points judging by the complexity of the routines, and if the judges detect any errors, the points will be deducted. However, it was Comaneci's innovation that put her on the top. Her creativity and the technical excellence that she sought in each of the tests that she carried out, continue to influence new generations, including the US gymnast Simone Biles.
Many more people and gymnasts over the world will share their opinion, as the argument over who is the all-time greatest Olympic gymnast will carry on. However, as the next generation of athletes emerges, it's safe to conclude there won't ever be another Simone Biles, nor another Nadia Comaneci.