We all remember how gymnast Simone Biles dominated the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where she won the all-around-gold medal — plus four gold medals — setting an American record for most gold medals won in women’s gymnastics at a single Games.
After the Olympics, Biles took a considerable break of 14 months and then returned to training in November under new coaches, Cecile and Laurent Landi. Despite what others may have advised her to do post-Rio, the self-imposed period of rest and recovery has proven beneficial for the decorated gymnast, who returned to the scene by winning the U.S. Classic — despite an uneven bars fall.
Further proving how talented and unstoppable Biles is, in her second meet of what many are calling a “comeback,” she won every gold medal at the recent U.S. Championships. Biles is the first woman to win all five golds since Dominique Dawes in 1994.
Moreover, she won the all-around by 6.55 points over 2017 world all-around champion Morgan Hurd. To put that in perspective, this gap is bigger than what had separated Hurd from the 11th-place gymnast.
“Confidence-wise and consistency, I still think we have a ways to go to get back up to where I was in Rio, but gymnastics-wise, [better than in 2016],” Biles told NBC Sports. “I think I’m finally starting to get it and understand it. I’ve understood gymnastics for a while now, but I think it’s really sinking in.”
In honor of Biles’ incredible journey back into the hyper-competitive world of gymnastics, here’s a roundup of eight things you may not know about the world champion.
She Started Gymnastics At Age 6
What got her on the path of gymnastics superstardom? One day-care trip to Bannon’s Gymnastix in Houston where she watched gymnasts work out and attempted to copy what they were doing. Despite being a youngster with no experience, a coach spotted her potential and soon thereafter a letter was sent to her parents urging them to get her started with classes.
She Collects Turtle Figurines
She owns a collection of turtle figurines that she brings along on all her travels. Biles tries to get a new one each trip!
She Was Almost A Bruin
Biles initially committed to attend UCLA, but ultimately decided to become a professional gymnast instead. “While I am grateful for the opportunity to compete collegiately, I feel that the chance to make my dream come true is right in front of me,” Biles said in a 2015 press release. “I know there are no guarantees, but I am excited and determined to be a member of Team USA at the 2016 Olympics.” She signed her contract with Octagon, the same agency that reps Michael Phelps.
She Is Now Enrolled At UoPeople
Biles began studying at University of the People, a tuition-free online university, last year. She is also the school’s global ambassador and is highly passionate about the school’s mission of providing free and accessible education for students, no matter where they live.
She’s Adopted By Her Grandparents
From the age of 6, Biles was raised, along with her sister Adria who is also an accomplished gymnast, by her grandparents, Nellie and Ron, due to her mother’s struggles with addiction. Nellie, whom Simone lovingly calls “Momma Biles,” is a major source of support for Biles.
She Has Her Own Line Of Leotards
Biles has a collection of GK leotards that come in a variety of prints and designs.
She’s A Dual Citizen
Her adopted mother, Nellie, emigrated from Belize. Biles holds both Belizian and American citizenship.
She’s Got Moves
In addition to being one of the best gymnasts ever, Biles is fire on the dance floor! She and her partner placed fourth in season 24 of “Dancing With The Stars,” though many think this crowd favorite should have won.
Now you know even more about one of the world’s greatest gymnasts of all time!