Simone Biles: 5 Facts to Know About the Olympic Gymnast Who Might Be the World's Best Athlete
If you don't know her yet, you need to before Rio.
Last night, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas made history by becoming the first American gymnasts since 2000 to be named to back-to-back Olympic teams. But the Fierce Five alums were not the only big winners of the night: 19-year-old Simone Biles won the Olympic Trials by over 2 points (a huge margin in this sport), earning her an automatic berth onto the squad that will head to Rio next month. If you hadn't heard of Biles before this weekend, get ready: you're going to be seeing her everywhere in the coming weeks. Here are five facts to know.
She’s on a winning streak
Biles's Olympic Trials victory came as no surprise to anyone who's been following her elite gymnastics career. Not only did she just win the National Championships two weeks ago; she also hasn’t lost the all-around category at a meet since March 2013, when she took home the silver medal at the American Cup. Since then, it’s been gold after gold after gold, including three straight World all-around titles and four consecutive National wins. Biles is the first African American to be world all-around champion, and only the second woman to win three consecutive world titles—a feat that had not been accomplished since 1992.
She might be the most dominant athlete in the world today—in any sport
Despite only three international appearances and no Olympics (yet), Biles has earned more World medals than any other gymnast—ever—with 10 golds, and 14 medals in total.
Biles is so dominant that after last month's National Championships, the Los Angeles Times wrote that at the Olympic Trials, her rivals would be battling for second place. Other gymnasts have joked in the past that they’ve given up trying to catch her. “All, the girls are like, ‘Simone’s just in her own league. Whoever gets second place, that’s the winner. Simone gets her own super first place,'” said Aly Raisman, double Olympic gold medalist, in an interview with USA Today. “Even the coaches joke about it.”
Tim Daggett, a former American gymnast and gymnastics commentator for NBC, said multiple times during last night's broadcast that he believes Biles to be the most dominant athlete in the world right now. Others have compared her transcendent talent to Michael Phelps, LeBron James, and Usain Bolt.
She has a crazy-hard gymnastics move named after her
In her floor exercise routine, Biles's first tumbling run is a double layout with a half twist, a move she debuted at the 2013 World Championships. She’s the first woman to ever complete this insanely challenging trick in international competition, which means the move is now named after her.
She has a heartwarming backstory
Born in 1997 in Columbus, Ohio, to a mother who struggled on and off with drugs and alcohol, Biles spent time in foster care before being taken in by her grandparents in Houston at age 3. Her grandparents later adopted her and her younger sister, Adria. Today, Biles calls them “Mom” and “Dad.”
Biles discovered gymnastics at age 6—though you could also say gymnastics discovered her. On a daycare field trip to a local gymnastics center, a coach spotted her copying gymnasts and sent a letter home encouraging her parents to sign her up for classes.
She's not that different from other 19-year-olds
Biles is active on Twitter and Instagram, posting quotes that inspire her, clips and photos of behind-the-scenes moments with her teammates, and shots of everyday life with her family and friends. She also admits to being a little obsessed with Justin Bieber. "When the first song came out, which was 'Sorry,' we kind of went ballistic and didn't listen to anything else that day," she said in an interview with PEOPLE. She added, "I have a celebrity crush on Zac Efron because he has very good looks and I've heard he's nice."