Homeschooler Simone Biles Labeled as Best Female Gymnast Ever

Before Simone Biles racked up accolades and gold medals at the Rio Olympics, the 19-year-old gymnast reflected on how homeschooling helped her reach the pinnacle of her sport.

Though blessed with natural talent and athleticism, Biles knew that she needed to begin homeschooling in high school if she wanted to advance to the elite level of gymnastics.

“I decided that I wanted to be better,” Biles told The Undefeated, a digital property of ESPN that focuses on how sports intersect with race and culture. “I didn’t just want to throw my skills. I wanted them to look good.”

Since that decision, Biles has become a four-time U.S. all-around champion and the first female gymnast ever to win three straight world titles. In Rio, she won the gold medal in the women’s individual all-around competition and helped the United States win the team all-around gold as well. She also has been heralded as the greatest women’s gymnast of all time.

“She may be the most talented gymnast I’ve ever seen in my life,” Mary Lou Retton, who won the all-around gold medal in women’s gymnastics at the 1984 Olympics told NBC, “and I don’t think she’s tapped into what she can really do.”

Though Biles enjoys plenty of success, she also tries hard to keep things in perspective.

“A successful Olympic experience for me would be giving it my 100 percent every time I go out and compete and doing the best routines that I can do for Team USA,” Biles said. “If that’s the best I can do that day, then I’m good with it.”

Biles was adopted by her grandparents at the age of 6 after her mother, Shanon, struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. Shanon Biles attended one of Simone’s competitions in person in 2013, but since then, they have not met.

“We’ve been through what we’ve been through, and life goes on,” said Shanon. “God is good, and he put [Simone] in this place for a reason.”

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