+

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.

10/10. The Mayyas dance.

We can almost always expect to see amazing acts and rare skills on “America’s Got Talent.” But sometimes, we get even more than that.

The Mayyas, a Lebanese women’s dance troupe whose name means “proud walk of a lioness,” delivered a performance so mesmerizing that judge Simon Cowell called it the “best dance act” the show has ever seen, winning them an almost instant golden buzzer.

Perhaps this victory comes as no surprise, considering that the Mayyas had previously won “Arab’s Got Talent” in 2019 and competed on “Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.” But truly, it’s what motivates them to take to the stage that’s remarkable.

“Lebanon is a very beautiful country, but we live a daily struggle," one of the dancers said to the judges just moments before their audition. Another explained, “being a dancer as a female Arab is not fully supported yet.”

Nadim Cherfan, the team’s choreographer, added that “Lebanon is not considered a place where you can build a career out of dancing, so it’s really hard, and harder for women.”

Still, Cherfan shared that it was a previous “AGT” star who inspired the Mayyas to defy the odds and audition anyway. Nightbirde, a breakout singer who also earned a golden buzzer before tragically passing away in February 2021 due to cancer, had told the audience, “You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” The dance team took the advice to heart.

For the Mayyas, coming onto the “AGT” stage became more than an audition opportunity. Getting emotional, one of the dancers declared that it was “our only chance to prove to the world what Arab women can do, the art we can create, the fights we fight.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

5 easy ways to practice self care

Because taking care of yourself should never feel like a chore

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life we forget the important things: like taking care of ourselves. While binge watching your favorite show and ordering take out can be just the treat-yourself-thing you need, your body might not always feel the same. So we’re bringing you 5 easy ways to practice self-care that both you and your body will thank us for.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Pexels

Three people engaged in conversation at a party.

There are some people who live under the illusion that everything they say is deeply interesting and have no problem wasting your time by rambling on and on without a sign of stopping. They’re the relative, neighbor or co-worker who can’t take a hint that the conversation is over.

Of all these people, the co-worker who can’t stop talking may be the most challenging because you see them every day in a professional setting that requires politeness.

There are many reasons that some people talk excessively. Therapist F. Diane Barth writes in Psychology Today that some people talk excessively because they don’t have the ability to process complex auditory signals, so they ramble on without recognizing the subtle cues others are sending.

It may also be a case of someone who thinks they’re the most interesting person in the conversation.

Keep ReadingShow less