9 reasons to be a little obsessed with elite gymnast Simone Biles.

At 4 feet 9 inches, Simone Biles is rarely the tallest person in the room — at least until she steps onto the podium.

The 19-year-old just won the all-around title and helped the United States secure the team title at the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships in Everett, Washington.

In fact, this petite athlete is one of the premier gymnasts in the world, earning multiple world and U.S. all-around titles.


Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

Ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Biles is at the top of her game.

But since we only seem to hear about gymnasts every four years, you many not know much about her.

Here are nine amazing facts about the best gymnast in the world.

1. A chance encounter during a field trip introduced her to gymnastics.

She was 6 years old when her day care took a field trip to a gym. Young Simone mimicked the moves of the older athletes and caught the attention of coach Aimee Boorman. More than a decade later, the duo still work together.

Biles and Boorman hug after the 2015 World Championships. Photo by Ben Stanssall/AFP/Getty Images.

2. Simone was home-schooled for most of her education.

For years, her typical day involved four hours of studying and schoolwork at her training gym in the morning. Then gymnastics in the afternoon. When her training began, she put in 16 hours a week at the gym. Now, it's closer to 30.

Focused doesn't begin to describe it. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

3. She's all about family.

Biles' mother struggled with addiction, but her grandparents were able to step in and provide care for Simone and her younger sister Adria. While she keeps in contact with her mother, her grandmother and grandfather are officially mom and dad.

happy birthday daddio🎉
A photo posted by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on

4. She has a signature flip.

It's a double layout with a half twist, and it's known in gymnastics circles as "The Biles."

5. Even former champions are amazed by Simone's talent.

Former all-around champion Mary Lou Retton called Biles "unbeatable." In a story for Team USA, Retton said: "She may be the most talented gymnast I’ve ever seen in my life, honestly. And I don’t think she’s tapped into what she can really do."

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.


6. But despite her prowess, Biles still has to deal with the B.S.

In 2013, she became the first black world all-around champion. Carlotta Ferlito, an Italian gymnast who came in 11th place, told the Italian media, "I told [teammate Vanessa Ferrari] that next time we should also paint our skin black, so then we could win too."

Though she apologized for her comments, the Italian gymnastics body went on to defend Ferlito and suggest a trend where the sport may be favoring black athletes and body types.

Biles may have a handful of ignorant haters to contend with, but she shuts them down at every turn with one simple move: winning.


Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images.

7. She is a serious force to be reckoned with.

Think of someone who's really good at something. Now triple their accomplishments. That's Simone Biles.

She is a three-time world all-around champion, with consecutive wins in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

She is a three-time U.S. all-around champion with consecutive wins in, you guessed it, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Plus, she has 10 world gold medals, a record for women's gymnastics. And she's not done yet.

How do you spell victory? S-I-M-O-N-E. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

8. But when the training is done, Biles is a lot like us.

Well, as much as an elite athlete can be. She likes Zac Efron, she still gets dressed up for Halloween, and she's afraid of bees. She even ran off the podium when one flew in her face.

9. After gymnastics, she's thinking about a career in health care.

While many athletes of her ilk want to stay in the gym and work as a coach or trainer, Biles hopes to follow in her mom's footsteps and become a nurse.

"Which way to the lab? I'll point you in the right direction." Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic team trials for women's gymnastics get underway in July, and Biles is already a favorite.

Not just to make the team, but to win the all-around gold medal. Competing in the Olympics has been a dream of Biles' since she was a child.

After decades of work and effort, it looks like that dream is about to come true.

Watch Biles shine in this jaw-dropping floor routine from last weekend's Pacific Rim Championships.

Most Shared

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture