Who Is Simone Biles?
As applause rang out when her name was introduced at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Simone Biles stepped up to the balance beam. She took a deep breath, then boosted herself onto the four--inch--wide surface and began her routine. Simone’s face was calm. But deep inside, the four--time Olympic gold medalist was nervous. She was at the Tokyo Olympics attempting to deliver the most challenging performance of her life: her first return to competition after she’d pulled out of the Olympics one week earlier. On that day, she had felt disoriented midway through her vault routine and had lost her ability to track her body through the air. Feeling lost in her routine worried Simone, and afterward, she withdrew from the rest of the Olympic competition in order to protect her mental health. So even Simone hadn’t imagined she’d be back and competing again so soon.
But on the final day of the gymnastics competition at the Tokyo Olympics, Simone surprised everyone by deciding to compete in one last event: the balance beam. It was all about getting back on the horse —-a lesson she’d been taught in gymnastics early on, as a junior athlete under the mentorship of her first coach, Aimee Boorman, in her home state of Texas. This four--foot, eight--inch gymnast had gone to Japan hoping to solidify her reputation as one of the most decorated gymnasts ever. She hadn’t lost an all--around competition since 2013. She’d already accomplished everything she’d ever dreamed of as a young girl bouncing around on the trampoline in her backyard. But as she exploded into action on the beam at the Tokyo Olympics, Simone needed to prove to herself that she was a champion. CHAPTER 1: From Ohio to Texas
Simone Biles was born on March 14, 1997, in Columbus, Ohio, the third of four children. Her mother, Shanon, struggled with personal and financial issues. And because she wasn’t always around, the children were often on their own. So when Simone was three, she and her sisters, Ashley and Adria, as well as her brother, Tevin, were placed in the foster care system (a system where the state helps to take care of children whose parents don’t have enough resources).
When Simone’s grandparents found out that she and her siblings were living with a foster family, they invited the children to live with them. Grandpa Ron and Grandma Nellie lived in a comfortable house in Spring, Texas, with their two sons: sixteen--year--old Ron II and fourteen--year--old Adam. Simone’s two older siblings, Ashley and Tevin, eventually moved back to Ohio. But Simone and her younger sister Adria loved living with Grandpa Ron and Grandma Nellie. They always had enough food, they adored their new older brothers, and they felt safe and secure.
On November 7, 2003, when Simone was six and Adria was four, the Biles family made everything official. They came before a judge at the courthouse to finalize Ron and Nellie’s adoption of Simone and her sister.
That night after dinner, when the girls were about to get ready for bed, Simone called out, “Good night, Grandma!” Nellie stopped what she was doing and looked at Simone and Adria. “You know, girls, we adopted you both today. So I’m your mother now, and he’s your father,” she said, pointing at Grandpa Ron. Simone squealed in happiness. For the first time in her life, she had a mom and a dad. Finally, she felt like she had found her forever home.
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