Nineteen year old Simone Biles is one of the best gymnasts who has ever lived. She has won more Olympic medals than any other American gymnast. And while she now makes gymnastics look simple, her road to the top was anything but easy!
When she was young, Simone’s parents were not able to take care of her and her little sister. Simone was put in foster care for the early years of their life. Lucky for her and her sister, they were adopted by their grandparents. They turned out to be the best parents that she could ever hope for!
Simone first tried gymnastics at age six as part of a field trip at her day care. The instructors were very surprised at her natural talents. Simone soon enrolled in a gymnastics program. And she loved it.
Her mother, Nellie, always encouraged her in gymnastics. With passion and determination, Simone kept practicing. She got better and better. At age 8, Simone started training with a local coach named Aimee Boorman. A few years later she started competing in national and international tournaments.
At age 12, she then started homeschooling to give her more time to practice and more flexibility to attend competitions. This made a huge difference for her! She kept winning and winning. And training harder and harder.
As her Olympic teammate Gabby Douglas once said, “Gold medals are made out of your sweat, blood and tears, and effort in the gym every day, and sacrificing a lot.”
Simone’s sacrifices paid off. When she was 16, she became the first female African-American all-around world champion! And then, finally, she made it to compete in the Rio Olympics along with her coach, Mrs. Boorman, who was also chosen to participate! Simone won 5 medals in Rio and is now compared to the best gymnasts in history!
Even though Simone kept advancing in her sport, she never forgot her faith or education. She attends church regularly and plans to go to college in California as well!
Her life story is now an inspiration to girls and athletes all over the world. Watch this video to learn more:
- Learn more about Simone on Wikipedia and USA Gymnastics
- Read and watch other IMK stories about perseverance, inspiring girls and gymnastics
- Check out these quotes from IMK on the value of hard work
Topics for Discussion:
- What qualities and value make Simone great?
- Who helped Simone along the way?
- Is there something you love to do and are good at? Could you work harder to become better? Set some goals for yourself and begin!
- Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
- Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.