Simone Biles’ Mom On Keeping Her Daughter Grounded And Goal-Focused

“Number one core value in our house is that we operate as a family,” Nellie Biles said.
Olympic gymnastic gold medalist Simone Biles' mother, Nellie Biles, said she was "proud of that bronze medal" her daughter won for her beam routine.
Olympic gymnastic gold medalist Simone Biles' mother, Nellie Biles, said she was "proud of that bronze medal" her daughter won for her beam routine.
Johnny Nunez via Getty Images

When three-time all-around world gymnastics champion Simone Biles stumbled on the beam at the Rio Olympics in August, her fans probably had their hearts in their mouths. But the Olympian’s mom, Nellie Biles, says she “was proud of that bronze medal” her daughter won in the event, seeing the misstep as more of a testament of her resilience than a moment of weakness.

“She did not jump off the beam ― she could’ve, because only her toes were hanging onto that beam ― but she stayed there,” her mom told The Huffington Post. “And the fact that she went on to do the rest of the routine as perfect as she possibly can, that speaks volumes to me.”

Simone Biles, 19, who would go on to win all-around gold individually and as part of Team USA, has frequently praised her mother’s love and support for underpinning her successful gymnastics career. Simone told CNN in August: “She encourages me and never lets me feel down about something for too long.”

For Nellie Biles, who has worked with brands like My Black Is Beautiful and Tide PODS to build more support for Simone, this is what being a mother is all about. Before being a world-class athlete, Simone is first and foremost her child.

“Keeping things in perspective and making sure that she takes one goal at a time, to me, is very important,” Nellie Biles told HuffPost. “I have learned to encourage Simone, make sure Simone sets goals, and she’s very good at doing that ... so we just cross off the goals for the year as they come along.”

Simone’s gymnastics skills and stellar performance at Rio were briefly overshadowed when NBC commentator Al Trautwig said in a since-deleted tweet: “They may be mom and dad, but they are NOT her parents,” referring to Simone not being the biological child of Nellie and her husband Ron. (The Biles, who are Simone’s biological grandparents, adopted Simone and her sister Adria when the girls were young, because their biological mother was struggling with substance abuse.)

“I do not have to defend myself as Simone’s mother and I believe that regardless of anyone’s opinion ... my husband [and I] parented Simone and her sister throughout these years,” she told HuffPost. “Parenting is a bigger goal than adoption and parenting requires a lot from the person and we gave our all so we were the best parents for Simone.”

Nellie and Ron Biles have continued to give their all for Simone. In May they opened a gymnastics facility in Spring, Texas. But Nellie is adamant that Simone isn’t favored within the family, and says she hopes “Simone stays grounded and that she remembers the values that she was brought up with.”

“Number one core value is that she is no better than anyone else, number one core value in our house is that we operate as a family,” Biles says. “Simone doesn’t get breaks because she won a gold medal.”

Now that the glare of the Rio spotlight has softened, Simone is preparing for the November release of her autobiography, Courage to Soar. Her mom says she’s happy that Simone is finally telling her own story.

“There are so many stories out there, so many versions of Simone’s story ... some of them stretching the truth, not quite true,” she says. “It’s good that Simone is finally putting her story out there, her version of her story.”

Simone Biles: Epic Gymnast

Popular in the Community