By Prudence Minayo
Known for performing some of the most difficult and distinctive moves, Simone Biles is the most decorated artistic gymnast in the United States. Having had a very difficult start to life, she beat all the odds to become an inspiration to many gymnasts around the world. She has 25 medals to her name, 19 of which are gold medals, the most in her sport having surpassed Vitaly Scherbo’s record of 23 World medals.
Age and Background
She was born on 14th March 1997 in Columbus, Ohio State. She is a daughter to Kevin and Shanon Biles. She had three siblings Adria, Ashley and Tevin. Their father walked out on his family and due to substance abuse, their mother was unable to take care of them. Thi resulted in Simone and her siblings being raised in foster care.
In 2000, after learning his grandchildren were in foster care Ron Biles (their maternal grandfather) and his second wife Nellie, took them in and officially adopted Simone and Adria. The other two were adopted by Ron’s sister.
In 2012, she switched from public school to homeschooling. This allowed her enough time to train, between 20 to 32 hours per day and she graduated from high school in the summer of 2015.
In July 2015, she announced that she would turn professional, forfeiting her eligibility at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to compete for UCLA.
At the age of eight, she began formal gymnastics training.
In 2011, she took part in the American classic competition in Houston.
In 2012, she was part of the US classic in Chicago. She was the winner in all-around and vault.
In 2013, she made her international debut as a senior by taking part in the American cup where she finished second. She also participated in the city of Jesolo Trophy and emerged the winner. She was awarded gold medals in floor exercises, vault, all-round and balance beams.
In July, she took part in the US Classic competition and performed poorly and after twisting her ankle in the floor exercise was unable to compete in the vaults. In August, she became the all-round winner after competing in the US National Gymnastics National Championships. She won silver in all the four individual events. During the October 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship, she became the first American gymnast to qualify to the all-round and all four events with Shannon Miller two decades ago. She won silver on vault, bronze on balance beam and gold on floor exercises.
In 2014, she took part in the US classic in Chicago and won on vault, balance beam and floor exercises. At the 2014 USA Gymnastics National Championships, she won silver in balance beam and two golds on floor exercises and vault. At the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship, she won silver in vault and gold in both beam balance and floor exercises.
In 2015, she took part in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship in Glasgow, Scotland. She won bronze on the vault and retained her championship in both balance beam and floor exercises.
In July 2016, she competed at the secret US classic in two events and was first in beam balance. In the US National Championships, she won gold in vault, floor exercise and balance beam.
In the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, she won gold at the All Around, gold at the vault, bronze in the beam balance and gold in the floor exercises. She was chosen by team USA to be the flag bearer in the closing ceremonies, the first American female gymnast to receive this honor.
In 2017, she did not perform in any gymnastics competition. She competed in season 24 of Dancing with The Stars but was eliminated a week before the finals.
In 2018, she performed at the July US Classic and won the all-round, gold on floor exercises and balance beam and recorded the highest points in vault. In August, she took part in the national championship and won the all-round title. At the 2018 youth Olympics, her team won gold. She took part in the world team selection camp and was first in all-round, floor exercises and vault and was second on uneven bars.
At the world championships in Doha, Qatar, she won gold on the vault, silver on uneven bars, bronze on balance beam and gold on floor exercises.
In 2019, she started off by competing at the Stuttgart World Cup and finished at number one. In July, she competed at the GK US classic and was first on floor exercises, third in beam, fifth on uneven bars and had the highest score in vault. She also competed at the US National Gymnastics Championships and took first place in all-round, beam, floor, vault and third on uneven bars.
In the 2019 world championships, she won gold in the all-round final, vault, balance beam, floor exercises and placed fifth in uneven bars.
In 2020, she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics but was unable to compete.
On Saturday 22nd May 2021, she performed a move considered so dangerous no other woman has attempted it in competition, the Yurchenko double pike. She attempted it at the U.S Classic Saturday night. To execute it, a gymnast must first launch herself into a roundoff back handspring onto the vaulting table, and the people herself high enough to give herself time to flip twice in a pike position before landing on her feet. The move is named after Natalia Yurchenko who pioneered the roundoff-back-handspring but never tried it in competitions or the way Biles did it. She performed it so well and even over-rotated it to the shock of those who watched her.
In June, she competed at the US National Championships and qualified for the Olympics after placing first in balance beam, floor exercises, vault and third in uneven bars.
Tokyo 2021 Olympics
At the Tokyo Olympics, she qualified for all the individual finals despite a number of mishaps.
Simone surprised the world when in the last week of July 2020, she withdrew from the women’s team all round final, citing mental health concerns. She said she was suffering from the twisties. This is a psychological phenomenon that causes a gymnast to lose awareness while performing twisting elements.
Later, she pulled out of the individual all-around finals, and then the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise finals too.
On Monday 2nd August, it was announced that she will compete in the balance beam final set for Tuesday.
- Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 2017.
- Arthur Ashe Courage Award and named ESPN Magazine’s Most Dominant Athlete in 2018
- Laureus’ SportsWoman of the Year in 2019
She dated Stacey Evin Jr, a fellow gymnast, and they broke up in 2020. She is currently dating American football player Jonathan Owens