Gymnastics: Former Olympic champion Liukin calls Simeone Biles 'the best'

Former Olympic gymnastics champion Nastia Liukin (above) has said that Simone Biles is the best gymnast she has seen.
Former Olympic gymnastics champion Nastia Liukin (above) has said that Simone Biles is the best gymnast she has seen.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Olympic gymnastics all-around champion Nastia Liukin said on Wednesday that fellow American Simone Biles is the best gymnast she has seen and predicts the petite dynamo will be the darling of the Rio Games.

Liukin, who claimed gold with elegant aplomb at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said she can hardly wait for the Aug 5-21 Rio Games and was hard-pressed to name Biles' main competition.

"To be honest, she's her own competition," Liukin said on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, where she helped throw the switch to light the skyscraper in Team USA red, white and blue to mark 100 days out from the Rio Games.

"She's just competing against herself. She's the best gymnast I've ever seen. And obviously the most dominant so far, even without any Olympic medal, just looking at her world championships medal count. The gymnastics that she does is just absolutely incredible. She brings it to a different level."

Biles, who turned 19 two weeks ago, is the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles. She has a total haul of 14 medals from the world championships, 10 of them gold.