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Born March 14, 1997 in Columbus, Ohio, Simone Biles is the most decorated women gymnast with 19 World and Olympic medals, including three World All-Around gold medals (2013-2016) and five medals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. This includes 4 gold medals (team, individual all-around, floor exercise, and vault) and a bronze medal for her balance beam routine.
Simone was also named the 2016 AP Female Athlete of the Year, ESPN Woman of the Year for 2016, and the 2016 International Sports Press Association (AIPS) Female Athlete of the Year.
Her Early Years
Simone was born to a mother struggling with a drug and alcohol addiction, which led to her and her three siblings being placed in foster care when she was just 3 years old. She was placed in her grandparent's care and moved to Houston, TX. She was never returned to her mother's care and her father has never been a part of her life. At 6 years old, she and her younger sister, Adria, were adopted by their maternal grandfather and his wife, who Simone calls dad and mom.
That same year, her gymnastics abilities were discovered when she visited a gymnastics center on a field trip with her daycare. Impressed by the natural talent she displayed while imitating other gymnasts, the gym sent her home with a letter requesting that she be enrolled in gymnastics or tumbling. Her parents agreed.
Over the next year, she caught the eye of up and coming coach, Aimee Boorman, who would become her coach when Simone was 8. Aimee remained her coach through the 2016 Olympic Games.
Simone Begins to Compete
In 2007, Simone began competing as a level 8 gymnast and by 2011 had gained a reputation as a force to be reckoned with. This continued through 2012, during which she received the all-around title at the American Classic, the Secret U.S. Classic, the Alamo Classic, and the Houston National Invitational.
After a dismal performance at the 2013 Secret U.S. Classic that included multiple falls and mistakes, her reputation and confidence was shaken. By the 2013 P&G Championships, she was back in her element, winning another all-around title and becoming the first female African American athlete to win gold in the all-around.
Her Reign Continues
Throughout 2014 and 2015, Simone continued to dominate the gymnastics world, winning countless gold medals at various competitions and perfecting her signature move: a double-flip with a half-twist now known as The Biles. Simone was homeschooled throughout this time and verbally committed to attend UCLA and compete in the 2016-2017 season.
Simone Turns Pro
Despite her commitment to UCLA, Simone chose to turn professional in July 2015, forfeiting her NCAA eligibility. By turning pro, she was able to earn money from endorsements. She quickly landed lucrative deals with Proctor and Gamble, Nike, Hershey's, and Kellogg's. At the end of the 2016 Olympics, her net worth was estimated to be around $2.1 million.
Simone is currently taking a break from gymnastics and is competing on Dancing with the Stars. She said in late 2016 that after taking a bit of time off, she planned to return to the gym and start training for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
(By Biopage writers. Photo credit USA Gymnastics and parade.com. Please contact Biopage for inaccuracy).
I always keep up with gymnastics because I love the Olympics. But what struck me when I first saw Simone in Rio was how perfect she was at everything. That girl was born to do what she does. And she is the best at it. Not the best black gymnast, not the best black-girl gymnast. The best gymnast. It really is inspiring. It's like she's sending a message to everyone who's watching: No matter what you're going through in life or what your circumstances are, you still can be No. 1. You've just got to work hard. Of course, it's important to have fun too. Simone is just 20 years old. She shouldn't have to take life too seriously just yet. When I met Simone, I could tell that she knew that. She was always smiling, and she gives off this attitude of wanting to enjoy every moment to the fullest. Simone is a very extraordinary person, and she's going to be a very extraordinary grownup. (By Leslie Jones, a featured player on NBC's Saturday Night Live, served as an Olympics correspondent in Rio. Photo credit Pari Dukovic-Trunk the New Yorker)