On May 22, 2021, 24-year-old Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles made history when she became the first female gymnast to successfully land the Yurchenko double pike move at the GK US Classic in Indiana. Biles, who was born on March 14, 1997, in Columbus, Ohio, became aware of her abilities at a young age.
By the time she was 10 years old, Biles was competing as a level 8 gymnast and by 2011 she had secured her position at the junior elite level. While her own attitude and hunger to be the best was without a doubt a driving force behind her success, credit also needs to be given to other role players, such as her mom and coach Aimee Boorman, who both recognized Biles’ talent and helped nurture it.
The nurturing can start at a very young age
When Biles was still in day-care she visited a gymnastics centre during a field trip. A coach noticed her imitating the other gymnasts and, recognizing the natural talent in her, sent a letter home with Biles, requesting that she join either tumbling or gymnastics. It was shortly afterwards that she started to develop her natural talent which soon saw her competing with the best gymnasts in the world.
Parents, teachers, and coaches can all start nurturing sporting talent from a young age by gently encouraging children to participate in a variety of activities while preventing them from becoming a slave to their sport.
Don’t ever push too hard
As important as it is to nurture young talent, it is also essential to never push too hard. Even the best athletes in the world have ‘off days’ and suffer injuries that prevent them from performing to the best of their abilities.During her career, Biles had to deal with a number of injuries ranging from a partially-torn calf muscle, a broken rib, and a toe that was shattered in five places.
When an athlete is injured, it is vital that the recovery processes are respected. It is all part of the nurturing process. Customized physical therapy and exercise programs can go a long way to help an athlete regain form after an injury. Add healthy encouragement and patience to the mix and the chances of an athlete returning to optimal form increases considerably.
All the talent could have been wasted
If her talent was not spotted and nurtured, Simone Biles’ story may have had a very different ending. When talent and interest aren’t nurtured, sport can soon become a very negative experience for children. It can lead to complete disinterest or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, to an unhealthy degree of competitiveness and general obsession. Biles was fortunate that she had a host of people that believed in her.
Even during her darkest hours, she had a very caring support system in place. A child can have all the sporting talent in the world but without these support systems, chances are good it will never truly amount to anything.
Nurturing the sporting talent of the youth can result in a whole new generation of sporting greats being discovered while they are still young. It is, however, important to never push any child, even one with exceptional sporting talent, to the point that they no longer enjoy participating.