It’s A Great Day To Be A Simone
September 17, 2016
Filed under Sports
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Both Simone Biles and Simone Manuel have been exceptional athletes their entire lives. Though one had a tough upbringing and the other was denied their first attempt at the Olympics, both athletes persevered through their challenges and proudly represented the United States of America this summer in Rio.
Simone Biles, 19, is a first time Olympic gymnast from Spring, Texas. Simone’s early childhood consisted of spending years in foster care since both of her parents were struggling with addiction. In 2003, Simone’s grandparents legally adopted her and her sister Adria and raised them as their own. Her grandparents sent her to a day camp where Simone showed a particular interest in the gymnastics portion. Two years later at age eight, she started training with coach Aimee Boorman, who eventually became the 2016 Olympic gymnastics coach.
Biles has held the world all-around championship title since 2013, and following her Rio debut, is the proud owner of 19 medals. In 2013, Simone competed at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Belgium where she finished first in the all-around, second on vault, sixth on uneven bars, fifth on balance beam, and first on floor. Her spectacular finish made her the first American gymnast to qualify for the all-around and all event finals since 1991.
Her first appearance at the 2016 Olympic trials ended with a first place win in the all-around, automatically giving her one of the five available spots on the team. When the time came to compete in Rio, Simone flawlessly executed her routines on vault and on floor that resulted in two gold medals and followed those performances with a bronze on the beam. Though satisfied with her three medals, she was most concerned about qualifying for the all-around, since each country can only enter two individuals. Competing alongside teammate Aly Raisman, Simone once again did not fail to amaze when she dominated the floor and vault, clinching the all-around gold medal.
Simone Manuel, 20, is a first time Olympic swimmer from Houston, Texas. Simone grew up in a family with two brothers who swam in a summer league and parents who strongly encouraged competition. At the age of four, she was asked to join the local swim team where she began her swimming career.
Simone swam at 2012 Olympic trials where she finished 20th in the 50 meter freestyle and 17th in the 100 meter freestyle, sadly not earning her a spot on the Olympic team. Manuel has attended Stanford University since 2014, and within her first year, broke the school records in the 50, 100, and 200 yard freestyle. Between 2014 and 2015, Manuel won back to back years in the 100 yard freestyle, setting multiple records with a time of 46.09 seconds. After a disappointing performance in 2012, Manuel returned to the 2016 Olympic trials, placing second in the 50 meter and 100 meter freestyle, and seventh in the 200 meter freestyle; her hard work and training had paid off when it was announced that she would swim for Team USA in Rio.
One month later, Simone Manual made her Olympic debut, swimming 52.70 seconds in the 100 meter freestyle, tying with Penny Oleksiak of Canada for the gold medal; Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic gold in swimming and set an Olympic record and an American record. She added to her gold medal count when she swam the 4×100-meter medley relay with Dana Vollmer, Lilly King, and Kathleen Baker. In her other races, she won silver in the 50 meter freestyle and silver 4×100-meter freestyle relay alongside teammates Abbey Weitzeil, Dana Vollmer, and Katie Ledecky.
Between Simone Biles and Simone Manuel, they medaled a nine times, six of which were gold. Biles and Manual each made Olympic history in their sports, and both athletes are hopeful for a triumphant return to Tokyo in 2020 to once again swim for gold.