The first thing that strikes you about Simone Biles is her smile – it’s infectious, electric and the stuff of envy among her teammates.
The three-time U.S. and world all-around gold medalist in gymnastics – and now Olympic bound athlete – flashes it a lot on and off the gymnastics floor.
As gymnastics’ new It Girl jokes, she may have very well come out of her mother’s womb smiling.
The next thing you notice when you see the 19-year-old perform is that the laws of physics obviously don't apply to her because only a superhuman can twirl, tumble, leap and fly in the air like she does. "Do you ever dream that you are flying?" a reporter aptly asked her post Olympic-trials at the SAP Center in San Jose Sunday, where she automatically qualified for Team USA after winning the two-day all around.[[386225761, C]]
“Sometimes I don’t understand how people can’t flip their body upside down, but I guess that’s what makes us special,” she said laughing.
Other questions came up, including what it was like to be adopted as a kid. Biles' grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles, adopted her sister Adria and her when she was only six years old. Biles’ mother had been fighting drugs and alcohol addiction at the time.
Biles is quick to point out that despite the media’s attempt to characterize her meteoric rise as a “Hollywood story,” she always thought her life was the norm rather than the exception.
“As a kid, since I didn’t know much, I honestly thought like everyone was adopted, until I spoke up, and they’re like, “You’re adopted? And I’m like ‘aren’t you?’ And so to me it was just normal and it was all I knew, so people make a story about it but I think it’s normal.”
Her on-point answers are similar to her movements on stage – swift, graceful and not for a second afraid to take on the world. They also allude to the fact that she may be way wiser than her 19 years. “The most important thing is having fun, if you’re not in love with the things you do, then you don’t put 100 percent effort into it,” she said in a message meant for her fans.
Her favorite Olympic Games?
“The Olympics that I remember is 2012 – I guess I wasn’t that crazy about gymnastics, like I loved going into the gym, but I was never like obsessed with watching it online and stuff, so 2012 was the one I watched," she said.
Biles’ biggest viral moment took place at the 2014 Worlds, when she screamed after seeing a bee in her bonnet. On Sunday night, the only screaming that took place was when she and teammates Aly Raisman (aka Mama Aly; Biles calls her “Grandma Aly”) and Laurie Hernandez burst into a spontaneous dance after finding out the results.
Minutes after her name was announced to red, blue and white confetti raining down on the SAP Center stage, Biles basked in the moment. "I'm happier than happy, and relieved, and that would be the word I would describe, but I guess I would need like a dictionary or something," she said, plopping down on a chair in the interview booth, looking content in her blue Under Armor Team USA jacket, red Under Armor hair tie, holding a bunch of congratulatory red roses in her hand. “For the past three years it’s been a dream, but once it comes true you don’t even believe it – it’s kind of like a fairy tale but you’ve to keep going. And I know it’s just the beginning, I know it’s just the end of the beginning, but it’s just the beginning now.”
Biles describe the moment she found out she was going to Rio as “very emotional.” Even though she got the news from national team coordinator Martha Karolyi before any of the 14 other contestants did, Biles said she didn’t take the news lightly. “Martha hadn’t come in and said my name off the paper, so that’s what I really wanted to hear before it was final,” she said. “We were actually all pretty chill in the room, on our phones, taking pictures, laughing. It wasn’t very serious. But we knew the time was ticking and that was the scary part.”[[386373391, C]]
Biles described her fellow contestants as “all very different but also the same.”
“Our drive to perfection is all the same, so it kind of motivates all of us together, and I don’t think [Karolyi] could have picked a stronger team.”
As for whether the final five heading to Rio will be nicknamed the Fierce Five – the name given to the members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, which included Raisman and Gabby Douglas, both going to Rio this year – Biles said she leaves it up to fans to decide.
Biles is equally prolific on social media, tweeting as well as retweeting fans, teammates and reporters, perhaps more than anyone else on the team. When Zac Efron wished her good luck for the Olympic trials, Biles tweeted back in all caps: “OH MY GOSH I THINK I AM GOING TO PASS OUT OH MY GOSH CRYING! THANK YOU”
“Yes, I’m on Twitter a lot, I like Twitter, it’s just a way for us to express ourselves and thank our fans and for them to get to know us," she said.
To keep up with Biles’ adventures in Rio, you can follow her @Simone_Biles on Twitter, @simonebiles on Instagram and simonebiles on Snapchat. As for Facebook, “it’s just for friends and family,” she said, flashing that million-watt smile.