Yesterday, Simone Biles won her first Olympic Gold Medal in Rio. At just 19, Simone has already broken numerous records, with Mary Lou Retton predicting that she “May be the most talented gymnast” ever. I recently had the opportunity to interview Simone and her mother, Nellie Biles, in conjunction with the P&G “Thank You Mom” campaign. This initiative from P&G pays tribute to the mothers behind Olympic athletes and the invaluable guidance and support that they provide.
Nellie noticed her daughter’s athletic potential when she was a young child. “Simone has been very passionate about her gymnastics from the time she started at 6 years old,” Nellie said. “I don’t think that I started paying attention until Simone was about 9. She then moved from a level 7 to a level 9 and skipped level 8. And so that really was impressive, and that’s when I started paying closer attention to Simone.”
For Olympian Simone, the support of her family has been key in achieving her dreams. “My mom’s support has meant the world to me, and for speaking for any athlete, moms are one of the most important things in our lives. They help guide us and do whatever we need them to do, so I can’t thank the ‘Thank You Mom’ campaign enough for doing this. My mom’s done a lot for me, a lot of sacrifices, just because she knows my goals and aspirations. It’s good to have my mom here because she’s the one who has gotten me to this point, as well as my dad. It’s just an honor to be here for the ‘Thank You Mom’ campaign, and I wouldn’t be here without her.”
One of the ways that Nellie supported Simone on the road to Rio was by being her biggest cheerleader. “If I see Simone struggling with a certain skill, and that becomes a little discouraging for her, as a mother, I just know that part of my job is to encourage her, and to see if we could drill down as to why she’s blocking herself from being able to do that skill.”
In addition to honoring her mother as part of the “Thank You Mom” campaign, Simone has also partnered with P&G as Tide Pods athlete. “It’s been amazing, just because it’s a whole new family and relationship,” Simone told me. “I think that’s exciting, and Tide Pods has helped us a lot just because we use it in the house. And it relates to me, because [it’s] small but mighty. I think some kids forget that, that you can use it as an advantage and it’s not so discouraging. So, I think that’s really good for kids to see that and I think it’s cool that I get to be the advocate for it.”
Watch Simone compete in the women’s individual all-around final tomorrow, August 11th.