Four months after her astonishing, historic success at the 2016 Olympic Games, Simone Biles has been named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. The announcement follows an epic showing at the Rio De Janerio, Brazil, event, which saw the gymnast take home a total of five medals, including four golds.
The title is awarded annually by the AP, which announced Biles’ honor Monday, Dec. 26. The designation is voted on by a group of American news directors and editors. Out of 59 votes, Biles earned 31 to gain the top spot. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky followed in second place, with tennis champion Serena Williams tying for third with WNBA player Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm.
While speaking to the Associated Press, Biles reflected on the 10-day event as best she could, admitting the competition is a fuzzy memory. However, she did remember a nerve-wracking moment during the preliminary rounds.
“In prelims, I did very well. I kind of shocked myself,” Biles said. “I came in thinking, ‘I’ve been to three [World Artistic Gymnastics Championships].’ I knew the gist of it. Once I got [prelims] out of the way, I just kind of relaxed.”
Biles’ medal count included four gold medals in the women’s individual all-around competition, women’s floor exercise final, women’s vault and team all-around. She also scored a bronze in the women’s balance beam final. Biles’ gold medals make her the first female American gymnast to win four of them in a single Olympics. Additionally, she tied Romanian Ecaterina Szabo’ 1984 record for the most gymnastics gold medals won in a single Summer Games by a woman. Plus, the 4’9 champion had a signature move named after her – “The Biles.”
2016 marked the fifth year in a row that the AP has given the honor to a Black sports star. Past title holders include 22-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams in 2015 and 2013, baseball star Mo’nae Davis in 2014 and Biles’ Final Five teammate Gabby Douglas in 2012.