Meet Simone Biles: The 2016 Rio Olympics’ Star Gymnast
Simone Biles, already the most decorated female gymnast in history, is set to match—or supercede—the fame of Gabby Douglas, the darling of the 2012 London Olympics. Biles, 19, is a Texas native and three-time world champion in the women’s all-around event. In Rio, she hopes to add an Olympic gold to her already crowded medal collection.
And her odds look pretty good: She hasn’t lost a competition since 2013.
Biles was too young to compete in the 2012 London Olympics, but she has been making headlines at the World Championships. She has competed in three, winning a total of 14 medals, 10 of which are gold– the most ever in women's gymnastics history.
In 2014, she was named the Women’s Sports Foundation's Individual Sportswoman of the Year, and in 2016 she was the winner of the United States Olympic Committee’s Best of June Team USA Award.
Biles has worked her way to greatness from the ground up. Along with her younger sister, Adria, she was placed in foster care after her drug- and alcohol-addicted mother was deemed unfit to care for the girls. Adria and Simone were adopted by maternal grandfather Ron Biles and his wife, Nellie, in 2002.
Perhaps the craziest thing about Simone Biles is that she happened on gymnastics accidentally.
Nellie recalls how a cancelled school field trip led Simone to Bannon's Gymnastix in Houston, Texas. Biles came home that day with a note from the gym asking if she would consider joining the gym.
Biles needs only three Olympic gold medals to become the most decorated American gymnast of all time, and her coronation seems likely; she is the favorite to win gold in five of the six women’s gymnastics events in Rio.
She is also known for her signature move, “The Biles”: a double layout with a half turn.
Jaycie Phelps, one of the “Magnificent Seven” from the 1996 U.S. Women’s gymnastics team remembers Biles being a standout from a young age: “You can tell in a gymnast when they’ve got something,” Phelps told Time, “She always had this incredible talent. Everybody looked at her and said that kid’s going to do something big some day.”
Watch Simone Biles perform “The Biles” at the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships:
Follow Simone Biles’ Olympic Journey: