A Black Star Gymnast Is Unusual? Read Your History
Simone Biles wasn’t the first — just the best. Black gymnasts were breaking in the mats decades before Biles roared to success, but none was accorded much recognition. In 1983, Dianne Durham became the first African-American to win a national gymnastics title, but an injury and politics kept her from competing the following year, when Mary Lou Retton, her white training partner, vaulted to Olympic stardom. Other Black athletes have helped diversify the sport since then, but Biles still has to remind people that race is hardly what makes her unique.