2017 Sports, Health and Wellness, Medium Newsroom finalist

The Gravity-Defying Physics of Simone Biles

Michael Tabb


Sports, Health and Wellness, Medium Newsroom


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About the Project

This groundbreaking multimedia feature by Michael Tabb breaks down the Olympian’s signature move, known as “the Biles,” and shows how the laws of physics can help us understand how Simone Biles is able to pull off this seemingly impossible use of the human body. The video story is rich in detail and Michael’s animations are beautifully rendered to offer a clear, compelling narrative. It also provides valuable context, by drawing on the history of women’s gymnastics and showing the evolution of this particular move. And it explains how much more gymnasts will be able to do with their bodies as our understanding of the science enables them to keep pushing on the frontiers of what’s possible.

The video was one of our most watched videos of the past 12 months in terms of reach, garnering 8.5 million views across Facebook (1) and YouTube (2). Using Quartz’s on site player, Michael interwove text and gifs with the video to create a fascinating interactive story. The story combines narrative with charts and even experiments that readers can try to help them grasp the physics.

For his deep reporting, clear presentation, and creative approach to a story that captured the heart of viewers and readers all across America, we are pleased to nominate Michael’s work for recognition in the sports category.