The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

A look into the life of Simone Biles

The most decorated female gymnast in history

Since the age of 10, Simone Biles has been recognized as a champion in the sport of gymnastics. With more than two dozen Olympic and World Championship medals to her name, Biles is recognized as one of the most talented and successful gymnasts in history. 

Simone Biles Owens, born Simone Arianne Biles, was born on March 14, 1997 in Columbus, Ohio. Due to her mother’s substance abuse issues, Biles and her three siblings were placed into foster care at a young age. 

After spending three years in the foster care system, Biles and her younger sister, Adria, were formally adopted by their grandparents, Ronald and Nellie Biles. While Simone and Adria were taken to be raised in Houston, Texas, their two older siblings, Tevin and Ashley, were adopted by their great aunt and went with her to live in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Biles first discovered her natural gift for gymnastics while on a field trip to a gymnastics center with her daycare group. 

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Biography noted Biles, who reported that “while there, I imitated the other gymnasts, and Coach Ronnie noticed. The gym sent home a letter requesting that I join tumbling or gymnastics.” 

In 2007, Biles began competing at a level 8 and in 2011, at the age of 14, she cemented her position in the junior elite level of the sport. In 2011, according to Biography, she also “took the top spot in the vault and balance beam events and finished third in the all-around at the American Classic.” 

Biles’ success continued in the following years, as in 2012 she won the vault and all-around events at the American Classic, the Alamo Classic, the Houston National Invitation, and the Secret U.S. Classic. 

When she advanced to the senior elite level, Biles continued to captivate audiences with her skills and talents, earning the title of all-around winner at the 2013 U.S. P&G Championships. During 2013, the gymnast made history at the World Championships by becoming the first Black woman to win gold in the all-around. 

In a statement recorded by Biography, Biles recognized how this win could serve as an example to aspiring young gymnasts, saying, “I think it inspires a lot of the little girls out there to go in the gym and train harder.”

In 2014, Biles once again took the U.S. and world titles in the all-around competition and also won gold in vault, floor, beam, and all-around at the Secret U.S. Classic. During her floor routines, Biles often performed a double-flip with a half-twist, which became her “signature move.” 

The following year, Biles also became the first woman to win a third-consecutive world all-around title, with a record of 10 gold medals at the international competition level. Afterwards, Biles shifted her focus to training for the 2016 Olympics, which were to be hosted in Rio. 

A majority of her training was completed at World Champions Centre, a gym owned by Ronald and Nellie Biles. 

“The couple opened the gym in 2014,” People stated,”so that their daughter (Biles) could continue to train with her longtime coach, Aimee Boorman, without hopping from gym to gym based on Boorman’s employment.” 

In 2016, Bilese rightfully earned a spot on the United State’s 2016 Olympic team, after winning the all-around title and first in floor and vault. Alongside her, on the team were fellow gymnasts, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian. 

While under the coaching of Marta Karoyli, the 2016 gymnastics Olympic team became known as “The Final Five.” Bile’s teammate, Laurie Hernandez, explained on the Today Show why they adopted the team nickname.

“We’re the Final Five because this is [coach] Marta [Karolyi’s] last Olympics and without her none of this would have been possible… We wanted to do it for her just because she’s there with us every single day.” 

Hernandez also made it known that the 2016 Olympics would be the last time a team of five gymnasts would compete at the international event, stating, “the next Olympics is only going to be a four-person team.” 

In August of 2016, Biles led the U.S. women’s gymnastics team to win gold. According to Biography, she “earned an impressive 15.933 in the vault, a 15.3 on balance beam, and 15.8 for a crowd-pleasing floor routine in which she performed her signature move, ‘the Biles’.” 

Because of this win, “The Final Five” became the third American gymnastic team to win gold, the other two wins having happened in 1996 and 2012. 

Biles continued to put the world in awe during the 2016 Olympics when she won the women’s individual all-around gold medal. By doing so, she also won gold by over 2.1 points, above teammate Aly Raisman, a “lead that was larger than any gymnast from 1980 to 2012 combined,” and became the “first woman in two decades to win back-to-back all-around Olympic and world titles,” Biography stated.

Even after these historic wins, her time in the Olympic spotlight was not over just yet. Biles went on to win gold in the women’s individual vault and earned a bronze medal on beam after a rare stumble caused deductions in her score. It was on her individual floor routine that Biles earned her fourth gold medal of the 2016 Olympics. 

The feat of earning four gold medals in a single Olympics is no easy task, as only three other gymnasts, Larisa Latynina (1956), Vera Caslavska (1968), and Ecaterina Szabo (1984) have accomplished this feat.

In 2017, Biles took a break before returning to train and continue dominating her sport. In 2018, according to Biography, she “swept all four events at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships to win the competition by a whopping 6.55 points and become the first woman to claim five national all-around titles.” 

The following year, Biles outdid herself, earning both her sixth U.S. nationals win and her fifth all-around gold at the 2019 World Championships. These wins earned her the record-breaking total of 25 World Championship medals. 

In May of 2021, Biles made history yet again, becoming the “first woman to successfully land the Yurchenko double pike move in competition at the GK US Classic.” The Yurchenko is a move typically used by male gymnasts, in which, as stated by Biography, is “a roundoff onto the springboard, followed by a back handspring onto the vault and ends with a piked double backflip for the landing.” Since then, the move has been renamed the Biles II. 

In 2021, she shocked the nation when she decided to withdraw from the women’s gymnastics team final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (which had been delayed to 2021, due to Covid-19). This decision, Biles claimed, was due to her mental health. Even after her departure, Team USA managed to win silver. Biles also sat out the finals of vault, bars, and floor, but ended up competing in beam and earning a bronze medal. 

Regarding her decision to withdraw, Biles stated, “I say put mental health first. Because if you don’t, then you’re not going to enjoy your sport, and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to.”

In May of 2023, Biles announced her marriage to Green Bay Packers safety, Jonathan Owens, whom she had met on a dating app in 2020. According to Vogue, “the gold medalist made the first move and slid into his DMs. Their relationship became more serious and eventually, he proposed two years later on Valentine’s Day.” The couple said “I do” at a courthouse in Houston before their official wedding in Cabo a few weeks later. 

Just two months later, Biles returned to gymnastics, dominating the competition at the Core Hydration Classic, previously known as the U.S. Classic. Not only did she win the all-around title by “an astonishing five points,” but Biles also won floor and beam. 

Her outstanding performance earned her a spot in the U.S. Championships later in August, where, as reported by Biography, “she became the first gymnast to win eight national all-around titles and, at 26, the oldest woman to win a championship.” Biles also took home the titles in floor and beam. 

Finally, in October, Biles reunited with Team USA and competed with them at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, which was her first international competition in over two years. 

“The American women notched their seventh consecutive world title,” Biography remarked, “marking Biles’ 20th world championship gold medal and her 33rd medal from all international meets, including the Olympics.” 

Due to her successful return to gymnastics, Simone Biles is now the most decorated female gymnast in history. According to NBC, while Biles is trying to refrain from putting too much pressure on herself, she “confirmed that she is, indeed, hoping to once again capture glory with Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics.” 

While the gymnastic trials are not until June 2024, Biles is looking forward to the opportunity to compete at the Olympic level once again. 

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Lainey Vollmer
Lainey Vollmer, Staff Writer

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