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16-Year-Old Simone Biles ‘Didn’t Think She Was Good Enough’, Now She’s Oldest American Gymnast to Enter Olympics After 72 Years

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“And still I rise,” – the words by Maya Angelou inspired Simone Biles so much that she tattooed them on her collarbone back in 2021. Living by the principles of Angelou’s poetry, Biles left behind the turmoil of the Tokyo Olympics and returned stronger than ever. After she made a comeback, she made sure to qualify for her 3rd Olympic run. With this, she became the oldest female U.S. gymnast to enter the Olympics in 72 years. Simone Biles showed the world that she has the ‘courage to soar.’ But, back in 2013, then 16-year-old Simone never imagined that 11 years down the line, people would know her as one of the greatest gymnasts.

However, for Biles, it was her first encounter with critics that shattered her confidence in 2013. She was just 16 when the gymnast participated in her first U.S. Classic and represented Bannon’s Gymnastix Club. But she fell several times from the apparatus, and couldn’t attempt her vault routine as she twisted her ankle. She concluded the event with the All-Around score of 41.300, and the highest All-Around score of the meet was earned by Kyla Ross (58.650).

Post that, someone commented on her physique and said, “you’re just too overweight. That’s why that happened like you’re fat.” Biles was heartbroken as her first US Classic didn’t go as she planned. And for a 16-year-old Simone, dealing with critics made her doubt her self-esteem. Following this, her father, Ronald Biles, got in touch with sport psychologist Robert Andrews, who helped her deal with nervousness and anxiety.

Defining Simone’s mindset during the 2013 US Classic, her mom, Nellie Biles, told Glamour, “She was competing against these girls who were her heroes, her idols. And it was hard for her to adjust to that. Simone didn’t think she was good enough to compete with them.” She further added, “I knew she was quite capable. But she needed to believe it.”

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