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With unprecedented moves, Simone Biles cements her ‘transcendent’ legacy

Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles is showing no signs of slowing down. On Sunday night, Biles won a record-tying sixth consecutive national championship -- and some of her moves were unprecedented. Amna Nawaz reports and talks to USA Today’s Nancy Armour about the challenging physics involved in Biles’ spectacular feats and how she is using her influence to hold USA Gymnastics accountable.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Nancy Armour is a sports columnist for "USA Today". In her latest piece, Armour said, quote: Simone Biles isn't just best gymnast of her time, she's an athlete for the ages.

    She joins me now from Chicago.

    Nancy, thanks for being with us.

    So, the triple-double is two flips with three twists. Just how big a deal is this move?

  • Nancy Armour:

    It is huge. It's the — the physics of it alone are really unbelievable, almost. I mean, consider the fact that she is turning herself end over end twice, but at the same time, she is twisting her body around three times. You have to have the physics of that exactly right or you basically will stop in the air and kind of plop to the ground.

    And she also has to know exactly where she is in the air, otherwise, she could do real damage if she's off at all. The power and the strength that it takes to do this is really nothing short of amazing, and, obviously, this is why it's taken so long for a woman to even try it, let alone land it like she did.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    You wrote in your column, she got so much height that if there was an SUV parked on the floor, she would have cleared it. And it's worth noting it's one of two record-breaking moves she made, right?

  • Nancy Armour:

    Yes, she also did a double-double off, dismount off a balance beam, which is a double-twisting double summersault, and what makes that so amazing is she's basically at a complete standstill before she does it. So, imagine that you are trying to dunk a basketball from flat feet. It's not exactly comparable but pretty close.

    So, what she's doing, the power and the strength that she has to get these moves, it's unmatched, and not just in her sport, I would say in pretty much any sport.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And it's worth noting, that little interview piece we just heard from her which was just days prior to her giving this performance. I mean, the fact that she is out there, still competing for USA Gymnastics, speaking out so bravely about the abuse she said she suffered, and then giving performances like this, what does that say to you about Simone Biles?

  • Nancy Armour:

    She's not only an amazing athlete, she's an amazing person. And Simone recognizes the power that she has and influence she has. She's the best thing that USA gymnastics has going and has had going for the last couple of years.

    And she picks her spots and she picks what she wants to say and how she wants to say it, but she recognizes that she has an influence and that she can hold USA Gymnastics' feet to the fire and USOC and even Congress, because she is the best gymnast in the history for sport and she's been failed, and somebody has to answer that, and she continues to point that out and demand that they do right not just by her but the other hundreds of women who were abused by Larry Nassar.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Nancy, there's a reason the move from this weekend has gone viral. People know that they are watching greatness when they see it go by. You wrote about this in your column. You compared it to Mohammed Ali's Rumble in the Jungle, Serena Williams winning the Australian Open when she was pregnant. You mentioned Simone Biles being one of the best gymnasts of all time.

    Is it fair to say she's one of the best athletes of all time?

  • Nancy Armour:

    I think so. I was struck last night that this is going to be one of these things — and I've seen her do many spectacular things, many of them. But this is one of those things that a decade from now, two decades from now, I'll be able to picture it in my mind, if somebody says Simone Biles' triple-double, or what was the best move you ever saw Simone Biles do, this will immediately come to mind. And I think that is the mark of an athlete who has transcended not just in their own sports but across sports. And if she doesn't qualify, then I don't know who does.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    We're all lucky to watch that greatness in action.

    Nancy Armour of "USA Today", thank you so much.

  • Nancy Armour:

    Thanks for having me.

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