Is Simone Biles the Best American Gymnast Ever?

After three world titles, Biles is gunning for the top spot in history

2014 worlds Simone Biles
Simone Biles at 2014 worlds. © Lintao Zhang

With an incredibly dominant, four-gold-medal performance at both the 2014 and 2015 worlds, American Simone Biles is turning heads -- for good reason. She's now a three-time world all-around champion, and has left no doubt that she's the top gymnast in the world right now. In a long line of extremely successful American gymnasts, is she now the best ever? We break it down.

The stats
In 2013, Biles won first all-around and on floor, second on vault, and third on beam.

2013 world medals: 4

In 2014, Biles won a gold with the team, in the all-around, and on beam and floor. She also earned silver on vault. 2014 world medals: 5

In 2015, Biles won a gold with the team, in the all-around, and on beam and floor again. She earned bronze on vault. 2015 world medals: 5

Total world medals: 14

What this means
Biles career total of 14 world medals is the most of any American gymnastics in history. (Alicia Sacramone, with 10 world medals is in second, with Nastia Liukin and Shannon Miller, in third with nine each. This is tied for the third highest tally of world medals for any gymnast in history, behind Russia's Svetlana Khorkina (20) and Romania's Gina Gogean (15).

Biles' holds the record for world gold medals, at 10, as well -- and this is the most of any woman in the history of the sport, American or otherwise.

The caveats
No one can argue that Biles has absolutely dominated the competition at worlds in 2013, 2014, and 2015, but women's gymnastics is at a bit of a crossroads right now, with very little depth, even in traditionally strong gymnastics powerhouses such as Russia, Romania, and China.

The current Code of Points seems to be pushing the difficulty envelope further than most gymnasts can handle, and injuries run rampant.

Additionally, top coaches from the former Soviet republics are heading to better-paying jobs in the US and other countries. So the American teams have been very successful lately, and it's likely they wouldn't have won quite as many medals if these other countries were as strong as they used to be.

Shannon Miller competed during a time of enormous depth worldwide in women's gymnastics -- currently, this is not the case.

Second, there is the Olympics question. Both Miller and Liukin -- Biles chief competitors' for the title of No. 1 American gymnast ever -- competed in the Olympics (Miller did twice) and won Olympic gold. In a sport where Olympic gold is prized above all else, Biles will have to earn some Olympic hardware to be named to the top of the list.

Will Biles be the best American ever?
Biles is certainly on track to top both Miller and Liukin's illustrious careers. She is exceptionally talented -- arguably the most talented American gymnast of all time. Biles can seemingly do just about any skill she wants, and has, remarkably, a competitive mindset that matches her physical abilities. She has already shown a rare ability to win and make it still seem like a lot of fun. In short, she's got it all, even in just her sophomore season in the big leagues.

Our answer
Biles isn't the top American gymnast of all time yet, but look out. This year, she's absolutely gunning for that No. 1 spot.