There’s a lot of hype around the 4 feet 9 inches tall Olympic gymnast, Simone Biles. But when you talk to those who have seen her perform, they will tell you it’s not hype, it’s pure talent. Biles may be the smallest American Olympian in Brazil, but she’s threatening to become Team USA’s biggest star of Rio 2016.
Biles, competing in her first Olympic Games, led the charge as the US women won gold in the team gymnastics competition Tuesday.
Nineteen-year-old Biles is bidding to become the first gymnast to win five gold medals at a single Games. And looking at her ease in competing with such difficulty, she’s well on her way.
But her road to gold was paved with hardship. Simone’s mom struggled with drug and alcohol abuse after she was born and her father was never there. So at the age of three, Simone was in foster care.
Ronald Biles, Simone’s biological grandfather received a call that changed his and Simone’s life forever.
“I got a call from a social worker that said Simone and her sister were in foster care. So I said without hesitation, ‘send them to me,’” he recalls. So Ronald moved them down to Houston and soon after he and his wife Nellie, adopted them.
“She was so tiny and jumping off everything. I was so scared,” says Nellie. “But Simone, she wasn’t afraid one bit.”
The couple says that they had no choice but to put her in gymnastics where she flourished. Her room is a testament to that with gold medals, trophies and winning ribbons from tons of competitions. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Simone and Team USA’s win also means the US retained the title it won in London four years ago. It is unbeaten in team competitions during that period.
Russia finished second, while China took the bronze medal.
Biles’ teammates Aly Raisman and Gabrielle Douglas, who became the first US women to win three Olympic gold medals.
“We had a lot of pressure coming in but I think we handled it pretty well,” said Raisman. “I’m at a loss for words.”
Lauren Hernandez and Madison Kocian joined Biles in taking home a gold from their first Olympics. Its the third time the US has taken the title, with the “Final Five” adding to triumphs in 1996 and 2012.
Hernandez shared why the group had opted for the nickname “Final Five” as opposed to the “Fierce Five” of four years ago.
“We called ourselves the ‘final five’ because there will only be four girls next time and because of Martha (coach Karolyi) finishing after this,” said the 16-year-old.
Biles is the heavy favorite for victory in Thursday’s individual all-round competition, which Douglas won in London, with Raisman also set to compete.