There’s been speculation for months that Simone Biles was about to turn the world upside down. Now it’s official: On Sunday night in San Jose, 19-year-old Biles won the individual all-around title at the Olympic Trials that finalized the U.S. women’s gymnastics team that’s headed to Rio next month. There, the Spring, Texas, resident is a legitimate favorite to win as many as five gold medals — the same feat she very nearly pulled off at the 2015 World Championships, where she led the U.S. to the team gold and won the individual all-around, balance beam and floor exercise events (the only “blemish” on Biles performance there was her third place finish in the vault).
This earlier article introduced you to Biles, including her compelling backstory of having been taken in and then adopted at age 5 by her paternal grandfather due to her birth mother’s struggles with alcohol and drug dependency. But before the women start competing in Rio on August 7, here’s what else you need to know about the ebullient teen nicknamed “$imoney” because she always nails her routines:
She’s the champ of world champs. Biles has won ten World Championship gold medals, more than any woman in history. Including an unprecedented three consecutive individual all-around golds.
She’s known as the “Michael Jordan of gymnastics.” And not only because of their similar win streaks (Jordan was undefeated in NBA championships, winning six). The 4-foot-9 Biles sometimes sticks her tongue out during routines (“It slips out,” she told People magazine), just like the 6-foot-6 Jordan did on court.
She’s a Teen Vogue cover girl. Biles and 2012 Olympic all-around champ (and 2016 team member) Gabby Douglas are featured on separate covers of the magazine’s August issue, looking flexible (what else?) and fierce (in a good, girl-empowering way). In an accompanying article, Biles encourages girls and women to love and value their own bodies as she does hers’: “I was built this way for a reason, so I’m going to use it,” Biles says.
On the seventh day she rests. Leading up to the Olympics, Biles trained 32 hours a week, spread across nine sessions over six days. She took Sundays off. Biles deferred her freshman year at UCLA and was homeschooled throughout high school. Her favorite subject to study: History. Whenever she’s not making it, that is.
She can handle anything, it seems … except a Zac Efron tweet. A fall off the beam? No problem. A direct tweet at her from the “High School Musical” star she’s longed crushed on? That’s another story. When Efron wrote “Good luck at the Olympic trials @Simone_Biles! #Rio2016,” last week, Biles (@Simone_Biles) responded with her own all-caps tweet: “OH MY GOSH I THINK I AM GOING TO PASS OUT OH MY GOSH CRYING! THANK YOU.” Apparently she wasn’t kidding. About half an hour later, Biles’s teammate (and 2012 Olympic floor exercise champion) Aly Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) goodnaturedly tweeted this:
“I had to give her CPR. Thanks for making her life @ZacEfron”