Gold medal Olympian and U.S. gymnast Simone Biles has something gigantic to pray about this Sunday after her first place, individual all-around finish Thursday evening at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janerio. This world gymnastics champion and first-time Olympian is a Catholic. She has said she routinely lights a candle to St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes and of Rio, before each meet.
Faith has been a constant in what has otherwise been a challenging young life she told Black Christian News. Biles, 19, and her three siblings were born in Ohio, but their mother was addicted to drugs and they were adopted by their grandparents in Texas after they were placed in foster care.
Today, she calls her grandparents "mom and dad" and attends church with them when she's not at a meet. She is a four-time national champion and a three-time world champion.
Biles' path to Rio has had hiccups. In 2013, she faltered badly at the U.S. Classic gymnastics meet, falling, stumbling, twisting her ankle and eventually withdrawing. "I felt like my life was going down the drain," she told Texas Monthly magazine earlier this year.
Being too young to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, the 4-foot-9 gymnast has completely dominated her sport since her senior debut in 2013. Not only is she the first female gymnast since 1974 to win four consecutive all-around titles at the U.S. national championships, but she's also the first woman ever to be the all-around world champion three years in a row. Not to mention that she's won 14 total world championships medals-the most ever won by an American woman, reports NBC.
Biles has been coached by Aimee Boorman since the now-champion was 8 years old.]
In 2013, Biles invented and was the first female gymnast to perform two back flips followed by a half twist in a laid out, or straight, body position. This skill, done on the floor exercise, requires a high level of "air awareness" due to the blind landing-in other words, as Biles flips and twist through the air she has to know exactly where the ground is because she won't see it until she lands. Biles is the only woman in the world who does the "Biles." It can be spotted at the end of her second tumbling pass.