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Who is... Simone Biles

Who is... Simone Biles

Simone Biles could win five gold medals in Rio, but she's already being called the best female gymnast that ever lived.

Simone Biles was too young to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, but the 4-foot-9 gymnast has completely dominated her sport since her senior debut in 2013. Not only is she the first female gymnast since 1974 to win four consecutive all-around titles at the U.S. national championships, but she’s also the first woman ever to be the all-around world champion three years in a row. Not to mention that she's won fourteen total world championships medals—the most ever won by an American woman.

Gymnastics  Beginnings

Simone Biles was born on March 14th, 1997 in Columbus, Ohio. By the time she was three, it was clear that her biological mother, who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, was unable to take care of Biles and her younger sister Adria. Her maternal grandfather, Ron, and his second wife, Nellie, stepped in and brought the pair to Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston—and sixteen years later, they’re simply “mom and dad” to their adopted daughters.

Young Biles was fearless, teaching herself to do back flips off her family’s mailbox before she even took a gymnastics class. It was a daycare field trip to a gym that led her to the sport—the six-year-old saw the older girls flipping and twisting and immediately started copying them. She began her training, and a year later her talent caught the eye of Aimee Boorman.

Boorman had never coached an elite gymnast before, which Biles said was an asset as the pair moved up the ranks of gymnastics.  

"It was a learning process together. So I think that's what helped us both, because we were kind of both clueless about it. So we were just learning together."


Simone Biles on her relationship with her coach



Simones Biles gives coach Aimee Boorman a high five at the 2016 P&G Championships

Simones Biles gives coach Aimee Boorman a high five at the 2016 P&G Championships, where Biles won her fourth all-around national title. Credit: Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

Boorman is still by Biles’ side at every competition.

“I always say she’s like the second mom to me because she’s been there since I was like 8 years old, and so that’s 10 years that she’s always been by my side,” Biles said. “I’m very fortunate to have a coach that I got to stay with all this time. Every year the bond gets stronger and better and we understand each other more. And it’s like she can tell if I walk into the gym what kind of mood I’m in, what she has to fix for the practice I need or how I’m feeling. So it’s really nice to have someone that can just like read me just right off the bat when I walk in the gym.”

Breakout Moment

After a catastrophic performance at the 2013 Secret U.S. Classic—falls and mistakes on the first three events left Biles so mentally rattled that she chose not to even attempt a vault—no one, not even Biles herself, considered her a favorite to win the 2013 P&G Championships.

“It was just going downhill from there,” Biles said of the 2013 Secret Classic, “and I just thought it was the end of the world. Nothing was really going right and we couldn't figure out why. I guess I just wasn't in a very good mental place. Then after [Classics] I went to see a sports psychologist and he helped me a lot.”

Biles was a completely different gymnast at the P&G Championships. Still just sixteen years old and facing off against 2012 Olympian Kyla Ross, Biles showed the winning confidence, along with high-difficulty skills and faultless execution, that has become her competitive signature. She won the all-around gold medal and took silver medals on all four apparatuses: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor.

Having proven herself as the best in the U.S., Biles starting building her reputation as the best in the world at the 2013 World Championships. Again outscoring Ross, along with 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina of Russia, Biles won the world all-around title by nearly a full point. She also qualified for all four event finals, which no American has done since Shannon Miller in 1991. She took home a gold on floor, a silver on vault and a bronze on balance beam—four total medals.

“One of my proudest moments was probably 2013 Worlds,” Biles said, “because I proved to myself that I could do things that I didn’t think I could. I guess I didn’t really believe everyone when they told me how good I was, and so for me to go out there and [win] I kind of started to believe it… I proved to myself that I do have the confidence to go out there and hit it like I do in practice.”

At the next year's world championships, she won all-around gold again but earned a more viral kind of fame due to the awards ceremony. When she was standing on the podium, silver medalist Larisa Iordache pointed out that there was a bee in Biles' bouquet—and Biles is terrified of bugs. 

 

Major Competitions and Medals

Biles has won every single all-around competition she’s entered since the 2013 P&G Championships—that’s 12 titles in a row with all-around scores over 62 points when only a handful of gymnasts are able to break 60.

At the 2015 World Championships, she wasn’t her usual model of perfection: she went out of bounds on floor exercise, came heart-stoppingly close to falling off the balance beam, and took a big hop forward on the landing of her vault. But her sky-high difficulty scores gave her a built-in cushion when her execution scores were slightly sub-par, and she still took gold over Gabby Douglas—the reigning Olympic all-around champion—by over a point.

"I was pretty disappointed in how I did [at the 2015 Worlds in] Glasgow, because I knew I could do better. Even though I came out on top with the gold it just didn't feel good because for me I did bad."


Simone Biles

Biles was in top form in the team and apparatus finals, though, winning team gold with the U.S. women, gold in the floor and balance beam finals and a bronze on the vault. That brought her career world championships medal count to 14—the most ever for a U.S. female gymnast.

Biles enjoyed a lighter competition schedule in 2016, only doing one all-around competition before the P&G Championships in late June. It was the last meet before the women’s Olympic Trials, and she proved for the  umpteenth time that she’s ready to lead the U.S. women to gold in Rio—and claim more than a few gold medals for herself. She won her fourth all-around national title with a two-night combined score of 125.00, 3.90 points ahead of silver medalist Aly Raisman. Even more impressively, her winning total was better than her scores at the three previous national championships. She also earned gold medals on vault, balance beam and floor and finished fourth on the uneven bars, her “weakest” event.

  

Simone Biles wins fourth consecutive all-around title at P&G Championships

Biles confirmed her greatness by winning the gold at the last competiton before Olympic Trials by 3.900 points. 

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Olympic Trials highlights

Records Held

From her senior debut in 2013 to the summer of 2016, Biles has racked up an incredibly impressive list of achievements. Her 14 total world championship medals makes her the most decorated American female gymnast ever, and her ten gold medals gives her the record for most Worlds golds won by a female gymnast. She is also the first female gymnast to win three consecutive all-around titles at the world championships, and the first African-American gymnast to win an all-around World title. At home, she is the third American woman ever to be the all-around national champion four consecutive times.

Signature Skill

In 2013, Biles invented and was the first female gymnast to perform two back flips followed by a half twist in a laid out, or straight, body position. This skill, done on the floor exercise, requires a high level of “air awareness” due to the blind landing—in other words, as Biles flips and twist through the air she has to know exactly where the ground is because she won't see it until she lands. Biles is the only woman in the world who does the "Biles." It can be spotted at the end of her second tumbling pass.

Another thing that makes Biles unique is her tendency to laugh, smile and joke on the competition floor—even finding time to send winks to the audience during her floor routine. “It’s good for me to cheer and distract myself,” she explains. No one has more fun than Biles, and she says that’s one reason she’s so successful.

“I think what sets me apart is how bubbly [I am] and how much joy I find in it, because it really does come all from inside whenever I go out there on the floor. Everyone is so serious out there and then I’m like ‘Hey guys!’… That’s how I have fun doing what I do and it’s how it works best for me and how I get my success out there.”

Her ability to keep the mood light has also made her a valuable member of the U.S. women’s team.

“If anybody has a bad day they'll just come to my room,” Biles said, “because they know I'll bring out the positive in everything or I'll make them laugh or I'll be just crazy. I don't know, I just try to find the good in everything and try to have a positive outlook on [competitions], so that we all have a good time and a fun time and we compete to the best of our ability.”

Top Quotes

“She may be the most talented gymnast I’ve ever seen in my life, honestly. And I don’t even think she’s tapped into what she really can do. I think she’s unbeatable.” – Mary Lou Retton, 1984 Olympic gymnastics champion

“Words that come to mind: powerful, consistent, fun, always smiling. She is just absolutely a joy. And I think what people need to know about Simone is she loves the sport. She’s incredibly talented, but she just has so much fun out there and it’s absolutely infectious to the audience.” – Shannon Miller, seven-time Olympic medalist and member of the Magnificent Seven

“She makes me so glad I retired! She literally throws my hardest skills, that I kind of paved a new way in gymnastics for, as her easiest pass. It’s really humbling. I literally watch her and I’m just in awe.” – Shawn Johnson, 2008 Olympic champion on balance beam and all-around silver medalist

“She’s the best gymnast that’s ever lived on the women’s side for sure. She’s the most talented gymnast I’ve ever seen in my life and obviously the Olympics will seal the deal. But even with 14 World Championship metals, she’s the best!” – Nastia Liukin, 2008 Olympic all-around champion

Alicia Sacramone Quinn on Simone Biles: "This girl is a freak of nature in the best way possible"

Quinn was the most decorated U.S. gymnast in world championships history until Biles surpassed her in 2015. 

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I always say my biggest competitor is myself, because whenever I step out there on the mat I’m competing against myself to prove that I can do this and that I am very well trained, prepared for it. So I always just listen to [my mom’s advice] and be the best Simone that you can be. It just really sticks with me whenever I go out to competition.” – Simone Biles on her motto

Olympic Experience

Biles was born just a few months too late to be age-eligible for the London Olympics and will make her Olympic debut in Rio.

Olympic Trials Highlights  

The U.S. women’s Olympic Trials will be held on July 8 and 10 in San Jose, Calif.

How to watch the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials

The women's Olympic trials will be held on July 8 and 10 in San Jose, Calif.

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Outside the Gym

Biles’ close-knit family includes her parents, Ron and Nellie, two older brothers, a younger sister who's also a gymnast, Adria, and four German shepherds: Maggie, Atlas, Lily and Bella.

“My dad is the man of the house, he's all sports and stuff,” she said. “And then there's my mom, she's like the more, not bossy one, because she's mom, but she just tells everyone what to do, what needs to be done. She's the cooker of the house. They all just hold us all together. My sister's just the crazier one, funny one of the family I guess, and then there's me, just the athletic one, just crazy Simone.”

Home videos of young Simone Biles

Biles shares footage from some of her early competition and gives a tour of her bedroom.

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Her pop culture favorites include Zac Efron (she calls herself “obsessed” and received a leotard adorned with his face from Ellen DeGeneres when she appeared on The Ellen Show), Pretty Little Liars, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and Taylor Swift. Biles has been homeschooled since the eighth grade and originally planned to attend UCLA and compete in collegiate gymnastics after the Rio Olympics, but instead decided to turn professional in 2015. Her first sponsor was Nike.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simonebilespage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/simone_biles

Instagram: https://instagram.com/simonebiles/

How to watch

Simone Bile will begin her Olympics on Sunday, August 7th at 4:30 p.m. ET in subdivision four of the women’s qualification session. The scores Biles earns here will count towards qualifying for the all-around and event finals, as well as to the team final (along with the other U.S. women).

The team final will take place on Tuesday, August 9th at 3 p.m. ET. Biles and her teammates will face off against teams from Russia, China, Great Britain and more in hopes of defending the team gold won by the Fierce Five in 2012.

Biles will then switch to competing as an individual, first in the all-around final on Thursday, August 11th at 3 p.m. ET.

If Biles qualifies for the event finals, the women’s vault and uneven bars finals will be held on Sunday, August 14th at 1 p.m. ET, the women’s balance beam final will be held on Monday, August 15th at 1 p.m. ET and the women’s floor competition final will be held on Tuesday, August 16th at 1p.m. ET. 

Q&A with Simone Biles

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles shares her hometown favorites, biggest inspiration and why she's a big fisherwoman. 

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Gymnastics

Everything you need to know about the 2016 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team

Simone Biles | Gabby Douglas | Laurie Hernandez | Madison Kocian | Aly Raisman | Chris Brooks | Jake Dalton | Danell Leyva | Sam Mikulak | Alex Naddour

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