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PROFILE US gymnast Simone Biles expected to shine at Rio Olympics By Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - She may be only 1,45 metres tall, but US gymnast Simone Biles is expected to be among the biggest stars at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The 19-year-old is competing in her first Games, but has won a record 10 gold medals at world championships and is already being touted by some as the greatest female gymnast ever.

In her first competition for an Olympic medal on Tuesday, Biles worked through the team event with precision and grace, making her moves look effortless en route to the gold medal. She scored best in the vault event and during the floor routine, which she says is her favourite.

Biles garnered some of the biggest cheers from the crowd at the Rio arena, but appeared largely unfazed and later told journalists that she wasn‘t feeling any particular pressure.

She remained composed until the end of the competition, when she threw herself into her teammate‘s arms. She attributed much of her success to the team during a giggly press conference after the event.

"Our hardest challenge right now would be getting sleep because we‘re just so excited," she said.

Biles, who was born in Ohio but lives in Texas, discovered gymnastics when she was 6 years old during a daycare field trip. She got noticed as she "imitated the other gymnasts," her profile on the website of the US gymnastics governing body says.

"The gym sent home a letter requesting that [Biles] join tumbling or gymnastics," it says.

Her breakthrough onto the world stage came in 2014 at the world championships in China, where she won four gold medals and a silver.

The US Olympic Committee named her the female Olympic athlete of the year for 2014-2015, even before she had competed in her first Games.

Outside the gym, Biles is a lot more similar to other American teenagers.

She lists her favourite activities as "shopping and hanging out with friends," her favourite food as Italian and her favourite music as "today‘s hot hits."

She will next compete in Rio on Thursday in the individual all-around final where she is the top favourite and set to dazzle fans again.

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