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Get to Know Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles Ahead of the 2024 Summer Games
When it comes to Team USA gymnastics, Simone Biles is in an elite category all to herself, but there’s far more than meets the eye when it comes to the 26-year-old superstar athlete.
When the world stops to witness the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, fans of the legendary Games will undoubtedly be watching the exuberant Simone Biles with bated breath, and for good reason.
The gymnast first captivated the hearts of Olympics viewers when she made her debut on Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since then, she's continued to wow her followers with her incredible performances, earning her the title of GOAT, a.k.a. the Greatest of All Time.
And while Biles is officially the most decorated female or male gymnast of all time, she's looking to potentially earn even more medals at the 2024 Paris Olympics. "That’s the path that I would love to go," she told Hoda Kotb in September.
Here’s a look at everything you need to know about not only the greatest gymnast of all time, but also perhaps one of the best athletes ever, Simone Biles...
When and where was Simone Biles born?
The third of four children, Simone Arianne Biles was born March 14, 1997, in Columbus, Ohio. Due to her mother's struggles with addiction issues, according to The New York Times, Biles and her siblings spent time in and out of foster care before Biles’ maternal grandfather, Ron Biles, and his second wife, Nellie Cayetano Biles, adopted the now superstar athlete and her sister, Adria, in 2003. Simone’s aunt Harriet adopted her two older siblings. Once her grandparents became her legal guardians, Biles would relocate to Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston in Harris County, Texas.
Simone Biles' Childhood
Having now honed her skills to a razor’s edge, Simone Biles first fell in love with gymnastics at age six when she visited Bannon’s Gymnastix in Houston, Texas, during a day care field trip, per her site. Biles was so smitten with the sport, the facility, and the instructors there that she spent 11 years absorbing everything humanly possible from her coach, Aimee Boorman, who she began working with at the age of 8. Her early eagerness, unparalleled passion, and staggering amount of preparation in the sport propelled her to master the competitive categories of the balance beam, uneven bars, floor exercises, vault, and all-around event.
Though Biles was adept in the sport early on, she said she had to work harder than others since she only started practicing at the age of 8. "Honestly, for gymnastics, that’s kind of late,” she told Vanity Fair. “Most people start in Mommy and Me classes as soon as [they] can walk. I truly was gifted, but I had to work for everything that I’ve had because of that delay.”
As Biles' progressed, she aspired to compete at the college level — that is, until she saw Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics. In her interview with Vanity Fair, she recalled, "I saw those girls and I was like, I’m going to the same camps they’re going to; maybe I could do that."
Biles writes on her site that she trains close to 35 hours a week at the World Champions Centre, a gym founded by her parents Ron and Nellie, in Spring, Texas.
While Biles is training with the 2024 Olympics in mind, she said to Vanity Fair, "If I don’t make it to Paris, it won’t absolutely crush me."
What Olympic medals has Simone Biles won in the past?
The only thing more radiant than Simone Biles' gleaming smile is the shiny hardware in her trophy case. She made her Olympic debut during the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and later competed in the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan. However, following her stint at the Japan Games, she took a 2-year break to recover from a case of what’s called the “twisties” — a disruptive mental block that hinders a gymnast from tracking his or her position during an aerial maneuver.
Despite her brief setback, Biles has already amassed seven Olympic medals, including four gold, two silver and one bronze, according to the Olympics’ website. Combine those accolades with her recent, dominant showing at the World Championships in October where she took home the gold, and Biles is now the most decorated female or male gymnast of all time. Her historic outing in the all-around final in Antwerp, Belgium resulted in Biles earning her 34th medal across the Olympics and world championships, surpassing Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo’s 33-medal record, according to CNN.
Biles is such an exceptional talent in gymnastics that, according to NBC, she now has five moves named after her in the international rule book – two in the floor exercises category, one on the balance beam, and two on the vault. Known for executing extraordinary technical moves, Biles became the first woman to ever successfully complete the Yurchenko double pike at a world competition. Now known as the “Biles II,” the stunning jaw-dropper of a move is comprised of an athlete performing a backflip off the vault, followed by two full rotations in pike position before landing.
Who is Simone Biles' husband?
Simone Biles is married to Jonathan Owens, an NFL safety who now plays for the Green Bay Packers after previously suiting up for the Arizona Cardinals and the Houston Texans. According to Harpers Bazaar, Owens proposed to Biles on Valentine’s Day in 2022, two years after making their relationship Instagram official in August 2020. The happy couple later tied the knot on April 22, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
Though becoming a wife has changed Biles' life, it has not changed her determination as a gymnast. As she told Olympics.com in October 2023, "People think if you’re a wife, you can’t be a professional athlete, you can’t be a gymnast, you can’t do whatever... And I came to the realization, like, yeah, I can still be a wife and be out there."
Simone Biles' Private Life
While USA Gymnastics reports Simone Biles likes to unwind with her favorite movie, Divergent, or her favorite TV shows, Pretty Little Liars and Agent Carter, she also enjoys shopping, hanging out with friends, eating her favorite plate of Italian pasta or pizza, and nestling up with a book from the Hunger Games series.
Now that she's married, Biles said that she makes more of an effort to prioritize her life outside the gym, joking to Olympics.com that she used to be "married to gymnastics."
"Now I feel like I’m attached to so many other things and gymnastics is just a part of my day because at the end of my practice, I’m like, ‘Well, I get to go home to a house, to my husband, to my dogs, to all this stuff,’ where before it was like, man, gym, gym, gym, gym," she explained.
Though gymnastics have made Biles a household name both domestically and abroad after she became the first woman to win four gold medals at a single Games, perhaps her greatest contributions to society have come off the mat.
In 2022, Biles joined fellow Olympian Megan Rapinoe, the Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, and 12 other honorees at the White House where President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden awarded the respective individuals with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, according to NBC Sports. Surpassing Tiger Woods as the youngest living person to ever receive the nation’s highest civilian honor, Biles earned the iconic award for her dauntless efforts as a “prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system and victims of sexual assault.” Using her voice to help curb the injustices of the world, Biles joins an illustrious list of Olympians to receive the high honor, including women’s college basketball coach Pat Summit, track and field gold medalist Jesse Owens, and civil rights and boxing icon Muhammad Ali.