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Simone Biles' comeback takes on an important meaning

Simone Biles competes on the balance beam during day four of the U.S. Championships 2018 Sunday in Boston. Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Give Simone Biles her cape. Give her teammates capes, too.

As Larry Nassar survivors bravely denounce the physically and verbally abusive tactics employed by some elite coaches, and USA Gymnastics tries to deal with accusations that it fostered a poisonous culture, Biles and several of the women who competed alongside her at this weekend's U.S. Championships were helping redefine women's gymnastics in much-needed ways, crushing outmoded ideas of what a female gymnast needs to be and do to attain success.

Biles' dominating performance in Boston was historic in a way befitting the woman many consider the greatest female gymnast of all time.

After skipping the competition in 2017, the Rio Olympic champion returned in force this year, becoming the first woman to claim five USA Gymnastics all-around titles and doing so by an astonishing-even-for-her 6.55 point margin of victory, the largest of her career.

Just nine months into her comeback after a yearlong post-Olympic break, Biles also posted the highest two-day totals on every event, including uneven bars, the apparatus once considered her Achilles' heel.

In doing so, Biles became the first woman since Dominique Dawes in 1994 to execute a complete sweep of the event titles at the national championships.

Indications are that this is just the beginning. Biles casually mentioned that she's likely to up her difficulty before October's world championships in Doha, Qatar, which would give her the potential to score even higher. (She's already been filmed training two uber-difficult skills that currently only exist in gymnastics fans' collective imagination.)

Biles has long eschewed conventional elite gymnastics wisdom about not taking long breaks or making room for other things in life besides training.

Her self-imposed hiatus after Rio lasted nearly a year and included family vacations to exotic locales, checking a few things off her bucket list and reaping the red-carpet rewards that come with winning four Olympic gold medals.

She also moved into her own apartment and started dating her boyfriend, former University of Michigan gymnast Stacey Ervin.

When she decided she was going to start training seriously again and her longtime personal coach Aimee Boorman had moved to Florida, Biles chose to work with coaches she felt were right for her: husband-and-wife coaching team Laurent and Cecile Canqueteau-Landi.

All this might seem like typical coming-of-age stuff, but it's revolutionary in elite gymnastics, where for the past 45 years the queens of the sport have almost all been teenagers, and their reigns short. Biles, meanwhile, seems here to stay -- and every time she steps onto the floor, she deals a blow to the notion that the best elite gymnasts have to be silent and prepubescent.

Biles' results are a testament to the time that she's put in to get back into gymnastics shape, and there's no doubt that part of her success stems from her extraordinary athletic gifts. Would an ordinary human have been able to regain her Olympic form after nine months back in the gym, as Biles has? The answer is no.

By taking ownership of her life inside the gym and out, Biles, much like Aly Raisman before her, is demonstrating that she can succeed in the sport on her own terms, while gymnasts before her were expected to be meek and obedient.

That's powerful in a whole different way than a good Amanar vault.

Biles wasn't the only one breaking down stereotypes in Boston. TD Garden was full of elite gymnasts having their say in one way or another. Margzetta Frazier, a freshman at UCLA, showed up looking comfortable and confident with her college coaches, including 2011 world champion Jordyn Wieber, in tow. The NCAA is mostly seen as a place where elite gymnasts transition out of the sport, but Frazier was in the thick of things all weekend.

After the meet, Frazier celebrated a successful return to elite competition less than three months after fracturing her sternum. "Y'all thought I was finished?!" she wrote on Instagram alongside a series of photos of her smiling throughout the meet.

Jordan Chiles, who finished second at the 2017 U.S. Championships, made her own statement by competing Sunday in a Wonder Woman-themed leotard. Biles sealed her victory in a teal leotard that honored Nassar survivors, a group she too is a part of.

Biles is 21, and she looked better in Boston than she ever has at any competition, including in Rio.

She is unafraid to speak her mind. When asked what her international competitors are probably thinking of her, she offered up this irreverent response: "I dunno. Maybe that I should probably quit."