Simone Biles: The US athlete set to become a household name

The world will be watching the 19-year-old at the Rio Olympics as she seriously raises the bar in gymnastics

Simone Biles: The US athlete set to become a household name

Picture by: Matthias Schrader / AP/Press Association Images

Simone Biles is a name you may not be familiar with yet but the 19-year-old gymnast from Ohio is set to become an Olympic legend.

The teenager is already being hailed as one of the greatest gymnasts of all time. There have been a number of comparisons made to Romania's Nadia Comaneci, who won five Olympic gold medals at the 1976 and 1980 Games and scored the very first 'perfect 10' in Montreal. However if all goes to plan, Simone could certainly outshine even Comaneci's performances.

During the qualification round at weekend she placed first in the individual all-round competition as well as taking her team to the top spot. She is currently in first place for three of the four events in the finals, second only to her team mate, Madison Kocian, on uneven bars.

One glance at the results from the first round of the competition shows just how dominant this athlete is in every event.

Simone is the current three-time world all-around champion, and has won 14 medals at worlds - 10 of which are gold. She is also the first woman since 1974 to win four consecutive all-around titles at US nationals.

She isn't just great and she isn't just extraordinary, she is truly in a league of her own. Her difficulty is so high on all four events, she could afford a fall or two and still come out with the highest overall score.

Road to Rio

The only thing missing from Simone's long list of sporting achievements is an Olympic medal, and so long as she continues to perform as consistently as she typically does, it won't be long before she has a few more golds to add to her collection.

So, what makes her so great? Well to put it simply, Simone can do things that other gymnasts can't and she does them with ease, packing her routines full of difficult moves and tricks. She may only be 4 ft 8", but she is incredibly powerful and this helps her get an immense amount of height on her tricks.

She excels in every event but the floor exercise and vault are where she shows the most skill. Her floor routine is one of the most difficult performed by any female or male gymnast in the world.

To put it into perspective, Simone's final 'simplest' tumbling pass (series of flips) in her floor exercise is the pass that most gymnasts do as their first, most difficult pass. She completes three incredibly difficult passes and then moves on to a pass that others would be proud to call their most impressive.


The main reason Simone has been so successful - aside form her ability to do very difficult routines - is that she rarely makes mistakes. Mary Lou Retton, the American gymnast who won the Olympic all-around title at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, said that Biles is simply 'unbeatable'. 

“Just when we thought we were at the physical limit of the sport, then here comes Simone Biles,” Retton remarked at the US Olympic gymnastics team trials.

Simone has been the undefeated US and World Champion for the past three years. Her success is all the more remarkable considering her challenging early life. Due to her mother's issues with drug and alcohol addiction, Biles was adopted and raised by her grandparents at the age of three, along with her younger sister.

She began gymnastics at six-years-old after impressing instructors during a school trip to a gym. Her talent was evident to her coaches very early on, and she progressed very quickly through the different levels.

Her breakthrough moment came in 2013 at the US P&G Championships where Simone beat former Olympians, Kyla Ross and MyKayla Maroney, to win her first national title. She has won every year since then by a landslide. Year after year, the difficulty in her routines gets higher and mistakes somehow become even rarer.

The most astounding part about Simone however, is that her coaches believe she hasn't even tapped into everything she can do yet. Although she is already performing some of the most difficult routines in the world, she does them with ease and rarely falters, leading many across the world to believe she has the potential to do more.

Simone will need to keep her cool during the Games, as the world will be watching and every gymnast in the competition will be waiting for an opportunity to over take her. However, last year at the World Championships in Glasgow, the teen proved her ability to perform under pressure when she was expected to deliver a "three peat", by winning three consecutive championships, and that is exactly what she did.

So far, it seems she has been able perform without any problems during the qualification round and if all goes to plan during the finals, she is set to become one of the biggest stars at Rio 2016.