Watching United States gymnast Simone Biles in competition is a privilege. Long may it continue.
“Simone’s got enough gold medals at home, someone give this girl a crown!” proclaimed one commentator as Biles made her way to collect her record-breaking 24th gold medal in World Championship competition after another simply stunning performance in the floor final in Stuttgart this weekend. She would soon add number 25, too.
She may not yet have been afforded a crown, but what the 22-year-old American does have thanks to her unequivocal success is a pair of signature moves named after her, a prestige only granted to a handful of athletes across the world of sport.
The ‘Biles II’ was decreed after the American landed a triple-double - a double backflip with three twists - at the beginning of her floor routine, following on from the ‘Biles’ of a double layout half out. The ‘Biles’ is also declared when one completes a Yurchenko half - itself named after Soviet gymnast Natalia Yurchenko in 1982 - accompanied by two twists on the vault, and a double-double dismount on the balance beam.
There are other sporting moves synonymous with a particular athlete which have been named in the individual’s honour.
The Czechs and the Germans have produced two memorable finals at the UEFA European Championships. Twenty years before a reunion at Wembley Stadium between the Czech Republic and Germany, 1976 saw Czechoslovakia beat West Germany on penalties after a 2-2 draw in Belgrade.
In the shoot-out Antonin Panenka deceived West Germany goalkeeper Sepp Maier with a deft but extremely cheeky chip through the middle of the goal. Czechoslovakia had won the tournament but, arguably more notably, the Panenka had become part of the conscious football collective. Interestingly, despite the widespread use of the term, in the Czech Republic itself the Panenka is known as the ‘Vršovice Chip’, after the area of Prague in which Bohemians 1905 - for whom Panenka played for - are based.
The Fosbury Flop
The Fosbury Flop is named after Dick Fosbury, the man who changed the high jump to the sport which we all recognise today.
An athlete who was the apex of the sport almost half a century ago, you may not remember the man but you will almost certainly know the technique he pioneered. Pre-Fosbury, participants would compete by flinging themselves over the bar kung-fu style to usually land on the sand/beds upright.
At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, the Estadio Olimpico was stunned as Fosbury defied expectations with his clearance head-first, propelling himself backwards after the raised marker, and eventually collecting what would turn out to be his only gold medal.
Fosbury had actually created the term himself in a newspaper interview after introducing the style in the earlier part of the decade. Now it is literally the gold standard.
The last time a high jump world record was held using a method other than the Fosbury Flop was back in 1978.
Norwegian Axel Paulsen - who held the world title in speed skating from 1882 to 1890 - invented the famous ‘Axel Jump’, considered the hardest jump to master in figure skating (that’s before getting started on either the double or triple version). A fixture of competition, it is entered from a front outside edge, a forward takeoff, enabling the mid-air rotation to then land on the back outside edge of the other foot used.
Paulsen was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1976.
In ice-hockey, the Datsyuk move is a shootout move created by producing a forehand fake, backhand pull-in move and then a forehand lift shot. ‘The Magic Man’ Pavel Datsyuk - named one of the 100 Greatest National Hockey League Players in history in 2017 - propelled the technique into the mainstream in 2006, a drag shootout move which provokes fear into netminders.
The Ali Shuffle
Jersey Joe Walcott proclaimed to have invented it, but boy did Muhammad Ali patent it.
“I’m the fastest thing on two feet, man!” he cried, and with a burst of energy those feet would become a blur, distracting the opponent within the ring before unleashing a surprise punch. Dancing, tip-toeing, the technique elucidates Ali’s eloquence and mastery of the sport.
“The Ali Shuffle was designed to make Ernie Terrell scuffle,” The Greatest explained, though in actual fact he had debuted it against Cleveland Williams in 1966. Shortly after Ali defeated Terrell in a bloody 15 rounds in Houston, Texas.
The Ali Shuffle can be imitated but few can execute it so perfectly.
The Cruyff Turn
It doesn’t matter that the game finished 0-0. It doesn’t matter that his subsequent cross came to nothing. Johann Cruyff producing a 180-degree-about-turn with the ball at his feet to leave defender Jan Olsson in oblivion is one of the most recognisable images in 20th Century football.
It is one of - if not the - enduring element of the Dutch master’s mythology. In a group-stage match at the 1974 World Cup between Holland and Sweden, Cruyff’s twisting hips and sharp turn of foot to feint his way out of confrontation with his marker became the foremost thing brought to mind when his name was evoked.
Imitated on schoolyards everywhere, the move becomes part of every new football fan’s lexicon early-doors.