Arena: U.S. Olympic Stars are Lead by Teens
Each milestone in life is equally important regardless of the impact. At 6 years old, I became an advanced swimmer and made the sharks group (elite second graders only). When I was 8, I learned how to ride a bike. After a few frustrating falls, I was able to do it and the feeling was irreplaceable. As a college student, I have made the Deans list each year (definitely got on the fridge for that one) and I was overcome with pride. American Gymnast Simone Biles is the 2016 Olympic individual all-around champion and she's 19. Oh. Okay.
The Olympics is being dominated by teens whose earliest accomplishments include competing on a national stage and breaking world records. This isn't to say that all of our personal milestones are less important, but it does put things into perspective. Olympians have been training for this moment their whole lives, making their childhood anything but normal. Biles weighs in on her life as a competitive gymnast.
"I had to be homeschooled, just because if I ever went to public school, I would technically fail in the state of Texas for how many days I've missed for competitions."
"I missed it in the beginning. My ninth grade year was really hard, watching all my friends go to public school and go to the dances, and then, obviously senior year, everyone was talking about prom. It was hard, but I got over it very quickly, because whenever you go out and represent Team U.S.A., it's nothing you can compare to a prom dance," Biles said.
And as for training, the young athlete has had a strict schedule for as long as she can remember, dedicating herself to being the best. In a recent interview, Biles discussed a typical day of practice.
"Usually, I work for five or six hours. On Monday and Wednesday, I train from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., and then Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, I train from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then 3 to 6 p.m. And then on Saturday, I train from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.," Biles said.
Biles is part of the "Final Five", who took gold in Rio this year after stunning the world with their acrobatic abilities. She has taken the sports world by storm and earned the respect of some of the most celebrated athletes of our generation. Kevin Durant was asked who he most wanted a picture with in Rio. His response: Michael Phelps and Simone Biles. She has carried Team U.S.A. on her back and lead the way to victory, inspiring athletes from various backgrounds.
Biles is one of many young athletes to represent our country. Lets take a look at some of the teen U.S. athletes who are thriving in the Olympics.
Katie Ledecky: Kathleen "Katie" Ledecky is a 19 year old American swimmer. She is a five-time Olympic gold medalist, and nine-time world champion. She is the current world-record holder in the women's 400-, 800-, and 1,500-meter freestyle (long course). She made her Olympic debut as a 15 year old when she unexpectedly won gold in the women's 800 meter freestyle. She has broken thirteen wold records throughout her career and she is just reaching her prime. Just this year, Ledecky was the youngest person on Time magazine's Time 100 list. Fun fact: She met Michael Phelps as a fan when she was just a kid and now she is in the same arena with him, representing the United States.
Ginny Trasher: Virginia Thrasher is a 19 year old American sports shooter who won the first gold medal for the U.S. this year in the women's 10 meter air rifle at the Olympics. She is a student at WVU, which has the most successful rifle team in the country with four consecutive national championships. She received a perfect score with a 10.9 on her first shot in the air rifle competition and set an Olympic record with her final score. Her success was surprising because of her lack of training. Thrasher originally pursued figure skating, but realized it was more of a hobby than a passion. She only fired her first gun four years ago after going hunting with her grandfather. Her father was in the Air Force and taught her how to shoot and she began training.
Simone Manuel: Simone Ashley Manuel is an American swimmer, specializing in sprint freestyle. She became the first African-American woman to win an individual gold medal for Olympic swimming after winning the 100 meter freestyle. She also set an Olympic record, along with Penny Oleksiak. They tied for the win with 52.70 seconds. She was a key part of the U.S. success this year, helping the women's team win silver in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. Teammate Katie Ledecky will be joining Manuel at Stanford, who has one of the best swimming programs in the country. Their swim team is going to be insane with this duo competing together next year.