Believe it or not, there was a time when Simone Biles wasn’t quite good enough to make a team, let alone win a medal.
In 2011, a 14-year-old Biles finished 14th in the all-around at the U.S. Junior Championships, after which the U.S. women’s junior national team was named.
Thirteen gymnasts made the team, so Biles missed by one spot.
Biles described it as devastation, heartbreaking and a failure in an excerpt from “Courage to Soar,” her autobiography due out Nov. 15.
“Tears were bubbling up inside me, but I refused to let the other girls or the coaches see me cry,” Biles wrote. “That’s how my journey as an elite gymnast began — with a defeat that put an ache in my heart and doubts in my mind.”
Biles finished third in the U.S. junior all-around in 2012 and then won the U.S. senior all-around for the first of four straight times in 2013. It marked the start of a dominating Olympic cycle that ended with four gold medals in Rio.
Biles has said she is taking one year off from gymnastics and detailed her future more here.
Also in the book excerpt, 1984 Olympic all-around champion Mary Lou Retton describes the first time she met Biles, handing her a gold medal at the 2009 Mary Lou Retton Invitational.Follow @nzaccardi