Of the world’s roughly 11,000 elite athletes set to perform at the Tokyo Olympics, one star is expected to shine brightest: Simone Biles.
There’s a reason she’s the most accomplished gymnast of all time. There’s a reason she has ascended into a Michael Phelps-like Olympic stratosphere. There’s a reason she’s the lone athlete on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2021 Olympic preview issue.
There’s a reason she confidently wears the image of a crystallized goat on her leotard.
And that reason is because, when it comes to gymnastics and female Olympians, Simone Biles is the greatest of all time.
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Biles is looking to dominate her second straight Olympics
Only one gymnast has won four gold medals in a single Games: Simone Biles.
Watch all the action from the Tokyo Olympics live on NBC
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Biles captured gold in all-around, team, vault and floor. The 24-year-old will look to top that as the overwhelming favorite in Tokyo, where she possibly could take home five gold medals if she can also improve upon her 2016 bronze-medal finish in beam.
If she’s able to do so, Biles would break the record for most gold medals by a U.S. woman (topping the eight held by American swimmer Jenny Thompson), break the record for individual gold in gymnastics (topping Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska) and tie the record for most gold medals for a female athlete with nine (pulling even with Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina).
Biles’ boyfriend is Jonathan Owens of the Houston Texans
Biles and Owens, a 25-year-old safety for the NFL’s Houston Texans, first met through social media in March 2020. At the time, Owens was unaware his soon-to-be girlfriend was ... well, a legend.
“I didn’t know who she was,” Owens recently told Texas Monthly. “I just hadn’t heard of her, and when I told her that, that’s one of the things she liked.”
Having recently seen Biles perform in person for the first time, and perhaps having seen a few gold medals lying around the house, he now has a good idea. He even adorably called her “my lil champ.”
While “lil” might be misconstrued as pejorative, Owens is 5-foot-11 and towers over Biles, who is 4-foot-8.
Biles was adopted by her grandparents
Ron Biles, Simone’s maternal grandfather, adopted her in 2003. Simone had spent time in the foster care system with her three siblings when she was a toddler because their mother, Shannon, suffered from drug and alcohol abuse.
Ron and his wife, Nellie, adopted Simone and her younger sister, Adria. Harriet, Ron’s sister and Simone’s great aunt, adopted the two oldest Biles children the same year.
Biles started gymnastics after taking a field trip
Biles’ road to the Olympics began in 2003 during a daycare field trip. There, her natural talent first became apparent after she began imitating the gymnasts at Bannon's Gymnastix in Houston, Tex., at only six years old. After Biles successfully completed a back tuck, a gymnast jokingly challenged her to try it on the beam.
"So I went and ran up on the beam," Biles said. "And she screamed at me. She's like, 'I wasn't serious.' But I was going to do it.”
She soon did. Coaches took notice of Biles' performance during the field trip and sent a letter to her parents imploring them to put Biles in gymnastics. They did so, and Biles did the back tuck on beam a year later at age seven. She’d go on to become the most decorated gymnast of all time.
Biles has been unbeatable in the all-around
Biles, who counts Athleta as one of her sponsors, is particularly dominant in the all-around.
In addition to taking gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Biles is the first woman to have won five world all-around championships. She is a six-time U.S. all-around champion, including her 2016 victory where she became the first woman to win four in a row since Joan Moore Gnat from 1971 to 1974.
Biles has gymnastics moves named after her
Biles has not lost in all-around competition in eight years. In Tokyo, she’ll attempt to become the first repeat Olympic all-around champion in over 50 years.
Other GOATs don't have signature moves named after them. There's no "The Jordan" in basketball or "The Gretzky" in hockey. But there’s "The Biles" in gymnastics. A few of them, actually, after Biles submitted the unprecedented maneuvers and then landed them during a major competition.
On the floor there is the "The Biles" -- a double layout with a half twist -- and "The Biles II" -- a triple-double consisting of a double backflip with three twists.
On the balance beam, "The Biles" includes a double-double dismount off the beam.
On the vault, "The Biles" features a roundoff entry with a half twist onto the table, followed by a laid-out somersault with two additional twists. The move essentially was unjustly scored low on the difficulty value by the International Gymnastics Federation to dissuade athletes from attempting it for the sake of their own safety.
"It’s so unfair, because, am I in a league of my own? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t credit me for what I’m doing," Biles told NBC at the time.
At the U.S. Classic in May, Biles also became the first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike vault in competition, and she made it look easy.
Biles’ dogs have their own Instagram account
Biles has 4.3 million Instagram followers. Her dogs have 48,000 Instagram followers.
Get a look at the adventures of Biles’ two French bulldogs, Lilo and Rambo, by following @thebilesfrenchies. Their Insta bio proudly states “@simonebiles is our momma.”
While you’re at it, give Biles a follow to get an inside look at her quest to make Olympic history in Tokyo.
‘Simone vs Herself’ is on Facebook Watch
If Instagram isn’t enough Simone Biles social media for you, then you’re in luck. Facebook debuted a Simone Biles documentary titled “Simone vs Herself” earlier this summer. The superstar gymnast is the third athlete to be featured on Facebook Watch’s “Versus” series. Previously Tom Brady and Steph Curry were highlighted in the series.
All four episodes of Simone vs Herself are now available on Facebook Watch.