Simone Biles: Body image issue was biggest personal challenge
Updated 11:56 AM ET, Fri July 7, 2017
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Monaco (CNN)Rio's Olympics propelled Simone Biles to stratospheric levels of fame.
The 19-year-old was the darling of the Games, winning four gymnastics gold medals and dazzling the watching world with her skill and sunny temperament.
Her excellence proved the early pinnacle of a journey that presented Biles with formidable obstacles, not only in terms of her early family life, but also her own body image.
It can be a touchstone issue for teenage girls in the sport, their muscular physiques marking them out as different to their peers, and Biles says she was teased at school, mostly by the boys.
"I think in the gymnastics world, it is your body figure because you get a little bit shy about your body because you are very muscular," Biles told CNN when asked what was the biggest personal challenge she has had to overcome.
"But we wouldn't be able to do the things or achieve the things we did without our bodies so we're very grateful for them."
If her tumble skills look effortless, Biles' ability to shrug off taunts about her body shape only came through some painful experiences.
In a 2016 interview with CNN, Biles explained: "Going to public school nobody really had a body build that I did, and I was a girl, so the guys would sometimes make fun of me.
"I think they were just jealous because they didn't have the muscle definition I did. I would try to hide my muscles, not show them, and I would always wear a jacket."
It's just another strand of the intense scrutiny Biles has been under since her Olympic success.
After taking gold in the all-around, vault, floor and team competitions, as well as winning bronze in the beam, the conversation around her looks intensified, leading to negative comments on social media.
It prompted her to hit back at her accusers: "You all can judge my body all you want, but at the end of the day it's MY body. I love it & I'm comfortable in my skin."
Two of Biles' gold medal-winning teammates from Rio have encountered similar problems.
Gabby Douglas, a gold medal-winning teammate of Biles, suffered at the hands of online trolls and Aly Raisman has described as "completely normal" her feelings of insecurity relating to her body.
If Biles encounters any element of insecurity relating to her ability, recalling that brilliance in Brazil should help.
Never before had a woman from the US won four gold medals at a single Olympics, and her complete haul of five medals in Rio cemented her status as America's