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Publisher acquires autobiography of Olympic superstar

September 6, 2016
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Simone Biles
Simone Biles. Photo via

A local publisher will publish the official autobiography of one of the world’s greatest gymnasts this fall.

Grand Rapids-based Zondervan said today that it will publish Simone Biles’ autobiography, “Courage to Soar,” which will be released on Nov. 15.

The book was written with New York Times bestselling author Michelle Burford and contains a forward by Mary Lou Retton.

Zondervan is part of HarperCollins.

Gymnastics superstar

Biles gained the national spotlight this summer, earning four gold medals and a bronze during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

She set a new American record for the most gold medals in women's gymnastics at a single Olympic Games.

She is also a three time world all-around gymnastics champion and the first African-American to be a world all-around champion.

In 2015, at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, she became the only female gymnast to ever win three consecutive all-around titles.

Early years

Biles was born in Ohio and later adopted by her grandparents in Texas.

She began her gymnastics training at age 6, after a field trip to Bannon's Gymnastix, where a coach recognized her natural talent and sent home a letter requesting her parents enroll her in a class.

She quickly rose through the sport's levels, and in 2011, she began her junior elite career at the American Classics in Huntsville, Texas, where she placed third all-around.

Amid a few setbacks in the following two seasons, Simone rebounded in 2013 to claim the first of her three all-around World Championship titles.

“I’m glad I didn’t give up”

Zondervan said in “Courage to Soar,” Biles gives readers a “never-before-seen look” at her life.

She reveals how challenges in her childhood have "shaped her into the young woman and role model she is today." She shares the ups and downs of her life, insights into her positive mental approach and her "inspiring journey to the pinnacle of her sport." She also sets an example to always have fun, no matter the pressure.

"Simone's life and story will equip countless fans with the courage and motivation to move beyond life as it seems,” said Annette Bourland, SVP and group publisher, Zondervan.

Zondervan said Biles’ “strong faith in God and her triumph against the odds” has inspired others to “dream big” and “follow their hearts.”

Biles said she wants to use her story to inspire readers to reach for their own dreams.

“If you're willing to put in a lot of work, and if you're focused and determined, you can go really far,” she said. “That doesn't mean everything will happen overnight. For me, it took years of training and perseverance to reach my goals. But looking back on it now, I'm glad I didn't give up.”

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