TOKYO (AP) — There’s a phenomenon that happens every time Simone Biles appears on a screen inside Power Moves Gymnastics & Fitness.
As if flipping a switch, the young women of color on the gym’s competitive team spring to life, fueled by the jolt of adrenaline that comes with watching the reigning Olympic champion test the limits of their sport.
“They just get this motivation that’s just unreal,” said DeLissa Walker, who co-owns the gym just outside New York City with her sister Candice. “And we’re like, ‘Wow, they’re really inspired.’ … They’re like ‘This can be me.’”
Maybe because more and more, it is.
The face of gymnastics in the United States is changing. There are more athletes of color starting — and sticking — in a sport long dominated by white athletes at the highest levels.
Half of the U.S. women’s Olympic delegation that will walk onto the floor — Biles, Jordan Chiles and Sunisa Lee — at Ariake Gymnastics Center for Olympic qualifying on Sunday are minorities. Biles and Chiles are African American; Lee is Hmong American.
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