We LIVE for stories of perseverance, grittiness, and determination. We hear them all the time from racers in our community, but we also love to report on inspirational, badass stories from OUTSIDE the Spartan Universe — stories that we can learn from, that can help us become even more unbreakable. In Tough News, we share what we're hearing, why it's important, and why Spartans need to pay attention.
Reason No. 4,326 why Simone Biles is an absolute badass: She can crush her boyfriend, Houston Texans safety Jonathan Owens, in rope climbing.
In Simone vs. Herself, a Facebook Watch original docuseries that premiered on June 15, the 24-year-old artistic gymnast can be seen handling the signature Spartan obstacle with ease, effortlessly leaving the 5-foot-11, 210-pound pro football player in the dust. (Biles, it's worth noting, stands a minuscule 4-foot-8 and weighs a shade over 100.)
"I had you about three-fourths of the way," Owens says in the clip, to Biles' amusement. "I just ... I burnt out."
Everybody knows that Biles, 24, is one of the best athletes on Earth. But her underrated upper-body strength likely comes as a surprise to many, especially when you consider that she can evidently outperform a guy who goes toe to toe with NFL wide receivers for a living.
“You need total-body strength to move your body up the rope and ring the bell at the top," says Josh Rundquist, a Spartan SGX coach and OCR programming coordinator at Obstacle Academy in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. "But most importantly, you need good upper-body and grip strength.”
Biles' incredible total-body strength has helped her capture four Olympic gold medals and a ridiculous 19 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships gold medals. Widely regarded as the best gymnast in the world — and perhaps the greatest of all time, for that matter — she is expected to add more medals to her resume at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The 2020 Games, originally scheduled for July 24-August 9, 2020, were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will now kick off on July 23, 2021 and conclude on August 8.
Tokyo will only be Biles' second Olympics, but it will very likely be her last. In 2019, the Spring Hill, Texas native told BBC News that the 2020 Games would likely be the final time we see her on the sport's biggest stage.
"I definitely plan for the Tokyo Olympics to be my last," she said at the time. "I feel like my body's gone through a lot and it's kind of just falling apart — not that you can actually tell — but I really feel it a lot of the time."
However, she recently gave American sports fans a sliver of hope when she admitted that she hasn't ruled out one final run at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
“It’d be neat to end it there and hang it up, but we just never know," Biles told USA Today back in April. "We'll have to see. I think Tokyo is definitely my main goal right now, and then we have tour after that. So we'll just see.”
What we do know is that Biles is primed and ready to dominate the competition this summer, in what is the most anticipated storyline of the entire Games. Don't miss a second of her action, because we may never see another like her again.
And if she does decide to call it quits after Tokyo, she could always consider a second career as a Spartan racer. We know the Rope Climb wouldn't give her any issues.
Check out the rope climb challenge in the first scene of the episode below.
Simone vs. Herself is a seven-part series, with new episodes airing every Tuesday on Facebook Watch. You can view them on the Versus On Watch Facebook page.