Simone Biles became the first black woman to win the All-Around title in the Gymnastics World Championships on Oct. 4, prompting an Italian competitor, Carlotta Ferlito to make a racist joke at her expense.

“I told [Vanessa] that next time we’ll have our skin black so we can win, too,” Ferlito said in an interview post-competition.

Ferlito, along with Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari finished behind Simone, 16, in the beam finals, apparently upsetting them to the point that they attributed Simone’s win to her race.


A week of entertainment news in your in-box.
We find the news you need to know, so you don't have to.

“It did bother her. I told her, ‘Don’t get roped into this’ and, ‘Don’t let those comments ruin this moment for you. Just be proud of your performance and outcome,’” Nellie Biles, Simone’s mother, told USA Today.

Simone’s father, Ron Biles, also commented, saying he found the incident “very insulting…The racial comment was really out of line.”

Ferlito apologized on Twitter, writing, “I want to apologize with the American girls. I don’t want to sound rude or racist. I love Simone and I’m a huge fan of USA gymnastics. I’ve made a mistake, I’m not perfect… I didn’t think about what I was saying. I’m just a human. I’m so so sorry.”

Simone has yet to address the comment, and a statement appears unlikely. Steve Penny, USA Gymnastics president, however, has released a statement:

“USA Gymnastics is disappointed by the recent comments made by Carlotta Ferlito and apparently by the Italian Gymnastics Federation. Gymnastics is a global and inclusive sport with talented athletes, and there is no place for racial insensitivtity. We are contacting the Italian federation for clarification on its comments.”

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

Leave a comment

Read more about: