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Team USA Gymnast Simone Biles Brings Christianity With Her to the Routine Floor

One of the clear favorites at this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is 19-year-old Simone Biles, a Team USA gymnast who is a four-time national champion and three-time world champion.

Though it’s her first time appearing in the Olympic games, Biles is no stranger to overcoming difficult challenges. She and her two siblings were born in Ohio to a mother addicted to drugs and went through the foster care system early in life before being adopted by their grandparents in Texas when Simone was six years old.

Today, Biles simply refers to her grandparents as “mom and dad” and attends church with them every Sunday when she’s not on the road for a competition. She has also reconnected with her birth mother, Shanon Biles, who has said, “We’ve been through what we’ve been through, and life goes on,” recognizing that God has gifted her daughter with a great athletic talent.

Though Biles could have chosen a more popular or less demanding sport like lacrosse, which is played nationwide by more than 250,000 people, she fell into gymnastics after a serendipitous daycare field trip to Bannon’s Gymnastics in Houston, where instructors immediately recognized her natural skill and encouraged her parents to enroll her in lessons.

With more than 14 medals and 10 World Championship titles to date, Biles has been called “America’s most successful gymnast.”

Raised Catholic, part of her preparation for the sport is also spiritual. “Before a big event, I usually go to church and light a candle for St. Sebastian, who is the patron saint of athletes,” she said.

She can also be spotted off the vault with a white rosary in hand. “My mom, Nellie, got me a rosary at church,” she explained. “I don’t use it to pray before a competition. I’ll just pray normally to myself, but I have it there in case.”

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