• Mollie M. Bradley, Contributing Writer

Black History Month: Simone Biles: An Olympic gymnast


Simone Biles’s entrance into the world of gymnastics may have started on a day care trip in her hometown of Spring, Texas, but her God-given talent, passion and perseverance have made her one of the top gymnasts in the world, as well as a four-time winner of Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro. Simone Arianne Biles was born on March 14, 1997, in Columbus, Ohio. Her birth mother, Shannon Biles, was unable to care for Simone and her other three children due to drug addiction. In 2003, Simone and her sister, Adria, were adopted by their grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles of Spring, Texas. Biles first tried gymnastics at six years old as a part of a day care field trip. The instructor suggested she continue with gymnastics. She enrolled in a training program at Brannon’s Gymnastix. Aimee Boorman began training her at the age of eight and was her one and only coach. In 2012, Biles switched from public school to home schooling. This change allowed her to spend more time in training to participate in coming events. In 2015, she graduated from high school. During this time, she continued her career competing for various goals. In an article by Suzanne Rust, “Modern Life,” in Family Circle magazine (August 2016), she stated, “I have never tried another sport. Gymnastics is it and I fell in love the very first day, competing is just a blast, and honestly, I never wake up not wanting to train.” She is a 4-foot 8-inch dynamo and trains 32 hours a week. She sticks to a regimented diet high in protein and vegetables and low in carbs. Her downtime is half a day Saturday and Sunday. Sundays are all about spending time with her family; attending church and having a big family dinner. In the same interview, her mother, Nellie, was asked, “What is it like raising a champion?” She stated that she does it with a loving but firm hand. “In the house, Simone is no different from her siblings. She has chores assigned to her and she is expected to do her share. The family is proud of her accomplishments, she has worked very hard to achieve her goals, but there are rules in the house that everyone has to follow. Religion is very important to our family and there is no deviation from that.” In August 2016, the great event arrived, the Olympics in Rio. The U.S. Gymnastics team consisted of Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman. They were called the “Final Five.” One reason they were called the “Final Five” was that they were the last five-member USA gymnastics team to go to the Olympics. Starting in 2020 in Tokyo, each country will send only four artistic gymnasts. But the main reason was to pay tribute to Martha Karolyi. This was their way of thanking her for being their mentor. The “Final Five” did their best and brought home gold medals. Simone Biles has won a total of 19 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is the most decorated American gymnast. With her win in Rio, she became the sixth woman to have won an individual all-around title at both the World Championships and Olympic games. She set an American record for the most gold medals in women’s gymnastics in a single game. She was chosen by Team USA to be the flag bearer for the closing ceremonies and was the first American gymnast to be given the honor. The question was asked: “How do you get to be the greatest in the world?” She answered, “Practice, practice, and practice!” (Sports Illustrated, July-August 2016) References Suzanne Rust, Modern Life, Family Circle, August, 2016. Sports Illustrated, July - August, 2016 Simone Biles, “Courage To Soar,” (Zondevan, 2016) Writer’s Note “Courage To Soar” by Simone Biles is an inspirational book. She stated, “No one is more surprised that I am that a little girl with big muscles ended upon a path from foster care to an Olympic stadium in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Some might call that destiny, I call it a blessing, a gift from God and a miracle.” What a statement! Mollie M. Bradley

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