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Simone BILES

  • G 4
  • S 0
  • B 1

Every inch an Olympic icon

Along with her fellow American, swimmer Katie Ledecky, gymnast Simone Biles was the most decorated female athlete at Rio 2016, winning five medals in total, four of them gold and her scintillating performances made her an instant Olympic legend.

Simone Biles was 15 when she sat down with her teammates at the Bannon’s Gymnastix training centre in Houston, Texas, to watch the USA “five” of Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber win team all-around gold at London 2012, an experience that showed her where her future lay. “I never thought about competing in the Olympic Games when I was growing up,” she recalled, before revealing the seed that was planted in her mind that day. “Wow! I took part in a training camp with Kyla and Jordyn! Perhaps I can be there myself one day!”

Where it all began
Born in Columbus, Ohio, on 14 March 1997 and adopted and raised by her grandparents, Biles was six when she first set foot in Bannon’s Gymnastix. Fascinated by the other young gymnasts, she tried to mimic their movements and proved so adept at it that one of the club’s coaches alerted his colleagues to her obvious potential. A letter was sent to her grandparents, encouraging them to let her take classes. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The start of a fabulous career
Biles made rapid progress at junior level, showing a preference for floor, balance beam and vault, while also excelling in the individual all-around. After distinguishing herself at national level, she made the move up to the international stage and competed in her first World Championships in Antwerp (Belgium) in 2013. In winning four medals (gold in the floor and individual all-around, silver in the vault and bronze on the beam) and also finishing fourth on the uneven bars, she showed that she belonged at the top.

A perfect ten 
Unrivalled in domestic competitions, the petite Biles had her meteoric progress checked by a shoulder injury sustained at the start of the 2014 season. Making a speedy recovery, she collected four golds at the World Championships in Nanning (China) that September, topping the podium in the individual and team all-around competitions, as well as the floor and balance beam, and also picking up a silver in the vault.

Biles became the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles a year later in Glasgow, surpassing the legendary Russian gymnast Svetlana Korkhina, who collected her three all-around crowns over five world championships between 1997 and 2003. As well as helping her team retain their all-around title, the American star successfully defended her floor and beam titles and placed third in the vault. Her latest haul made her the USA’s most decorated female gymnast at the world championship with 14 medals in total, and the first to win 10 golds, all in just three appearances.

An all-around double 
The 19-year-old Biles headed to Rio as the new star of world gymnastics, a billing she more than lived up to.  She kicked off her Olympic debut by spearheading Team USA’s defence of their all-around crown, earning an exceptional 15.800 points for her crowd-pleasing samba-inspired floor routine as the Americans took gold by a massive 8.209 points from Russia and China. Two days later, she scooped individual all-around gold as well, and was congratulated on her achievement by the great Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who described her win as a “magnificent success”. 

The golds keep coming
The American pocket rocket picked up her third gold of the Games on day one of the apparatus finals, scoring 15.966 with her final attempt to win the vault. The following day, she made her only mistake of Rio 2016, unexpectedly slipping on the balance beam and dropping to third in a competition won by Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands. Biles recovered her poise 24 hours later, showcasing her power, flexibility and creativity in another near-perfect samba floor routine to score 15.966 points, sending the crowd wild as she collected gold medal number four. One step below her on the podium, just as she was in the individual all-around, was her team-mate and friend Raisman. 

One of a kind
That last gold made the Texan only the fifth female gymnast to win four titles at the same Games, after the Soviet Union’s Larissa Latynina and Hungary’s Ágnes Keleti at Melbourne 1956, Czechoslovakia’s Vera Cáslavská at Mexico City 1968, and Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo at Los Angeles 1984. After making sure of her place in Olympic history, the irrepressible Biles said: “My first Olympics and I’ve walked away with five medals: that’s not disappointing at all. It shows dreams can come true. I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps: I’m the first Simone Biles.” 


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Results

  • Games
    Result
    Sport
    Event
  • G 184.897
    Gymnastics
    team competition
    B 14.733
    Gymnastics
    balance beam
    G 62.198
    Gymnastics
    individual all-round
    G 15.966
    Gymnastics
    floor exercises
    G 15.966
    Gymnastics
    vault


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