Simply the best! Simone Biles is small in stature — just 4-foot-8 — but her reputation looms large.
The Texas-based athlete, now widely considered to be the greatest of all time in her sport, started taking gymnastics classes when she was 6 and earned an invitation to the junior national team camp when she was 14. Two years later, she made her debut at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, where she won a gold medal in the all-around and floor exercise competitions. She followed that up with two more all-around titles in Worlds ahead of her Olympics debut in Rio de Janeiro.
“People say I’m the best, but I still don’t think that,” Biles told The New Yorker before the 2016 competition. “I guess if I go to the Olympics and do well, maybe I’ll believe it.”
She did extremely well, winning gold medals in the individual all-around, vault and floor, a bronze medal in balance beam and a gold medal as part of the United States team alongside Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian.
After the 2016 Olympics, the five-time world champion took a brief hiatus to work on a book and appear on Dancing With the Stars, but by August 2017, she was back in the gym.
The ESPY winner took home two more world titles and planned to retire after competing in the 2020 Olympic Games, which were postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I kind of let myself go through the emotions,” she told Sports Illustrated in July 2021, recalling her feelings after realizing she’d have to wait another year to compete. “Sad, mad, angry, pissed off, hysterical — all of the phases. And that’s the first time in my life I’ve ever felt the emotions rather than somebody coming up to me and telling me, ‘Hey, it’s gonna be OK.’ I got to relish in all of those emotions and phases myself rather than people telling me, ‘Hey, it’s gonna be OK. You should be fine.’ It’s like, ‘Bro, no, I don’t want to be fine. I don’t have to be fine. I can be pissed off for now.’”
Biles was expected to dominate again at the Tokyo Games, but pulled out of the team competition after a disappointing performance in her signature event, the vault.
“Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue,” USA Gymnastics told Us Weekly in a statement in July 2021. “She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”
Despite her withdrawal, the U.S. team — which also included Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum — still took home the silver medal.
“They stepped up when I couldn’t,” Biles wrote of her teammates in an Instagram post after their second-place finish. “Thanks for being there for me and having my back!”
Keep scrolling to take a look back at Biles’ many achievements over the years: