Phil Taylor makes his argument for Simone Biles for Sports Illustrated's 2015 Sportsman award.
Simone Biles is one of the leading contenders for Sports Illustrated's 2015 Sportsman of the Year. You can see the full list and the entire series of essays that make the argument for each candidate here. This story also appears in the Dec. 7, 2015, issue of Sports Illustrated. To subscribe, click here.
At the World Championships in Nanning, China, last year, a bee did what the world's top women gymnasts have been unable to do for two years—force Simone Biles from the top of the medal stand. After she won the all-around competition, Biles was given a bouquet, along with her gold at the medal ceremony, and she was so frightened when the insect came buzzing out of the flowers that she jumped off the podium and did an impromptu floor exercise as she tried to avoid it. "I don't do bugs," she said later.
Biles, 18, also doesn't do second place. She hasn't lost the all-around competition at a meet since March 2013, and she continued an unprecedented three-year run of dominance in 2015, becoming the first woman to win three straight world championships in the all-around. She also won gold medals in the balance beam and floor exercise at the world championships last month, giving her 10 career golds at the worlds, the most ever among women. Biles is one of the most decorated female gymnasts in history, and she hasn't even been to an Olympics yet.
The expected success in Rio makes Biles a likely candidate for Sportswoman of Next Year, but she deserves her place on this year's short list as well. Though she's only 4'9", Biles is the biggest thing in her sport. She won her third straight U.S. championship in August—joining Kim Zmeskal as the only three-time national champs—and she has been so far ahead of her competition that the comparisons in the press have not been solely with legends of her sport, such as Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton, but also with other transcendent athletes, such as Serena Williams, Michael Jordan and Lionel Messi.