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Simone Biles on Olympic glory, life in foster care and doing splits with President Obama

·Global Anchor
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By Sarah B. Boxer

At 19, she’s already the most decorated American gymnast in history. Mary Lou Retton calls her “one of the greatest athletes of all time.” And she’s only just begun, with just *one* Olympics under her belt.

So where do you dine with one of the most fit and focused gold medalists in the entire world?

A pizza joint, of course. Simone Biles chows down a slice after every meet.

Between bites of a pepperoni (her topping of choice) pie at John’s Pizzeria in Times Square, Biles talked to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric about balancing small pleasures like this with maintaining a healthy body image. “I think we’ve learned that muscle is beauty now. And, yes, we might look maybe a little bigger, because our muscles are bigger than, like, if we were a little bit more lean. …. God gave you your body for a reason. So you have to use it to your best advantage. And you have to love yourself.”

Slideshow: Katie Couric interviews Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles >>>

In her new book, “Courage to Soar,” Biles recounts an incident at the 2013 Secret Classic, where she tearfully overheard a coach call her fat, after a poor performance.

“It’s so sad. Even though throughout my gymnastics career I’ve never believed that I was fat,” Biles told Couric. “No 15-year-old girl wants to hear that they’re fat, especially in a sport where we only wear half of our clothes.”

Biles has overcome a lot of adversity in her young life. She only has faint childhood memories of life in Ohio with her biological mother, Shanon, who struggled to raise four children while battling addiction. “I only remember one story about a cat that would always get fed. And they would feed the cat, but we were so hungry all the time,” Biles told Couric. “But other than that I don’t really remember being with her, because I was so young, and nothing really processed quite the way it should have in my head.”

Biles and her siblings were taken into foster care when she was three, and eventually she and one of her sisters were adopted by their grandparents in Texas. Ironically, it had been her grandfather, Ron, who had named her at birth, in homage to one of his favorite singers, Nina Simone.

Belying her age, Biles giggled as she revealed to Couric some fun facts: The best quality of her lifelong crush Zac Efron, who she met in Rio (“How genuine he is”), the celebrity she’d most like to meet (Demi Lovato) and whether she’d follow teammate Laurie Hernandez onto “Dancing With the Stars” (“I would, it would be a cool experience!”)

She also told Couric what she and her teammates discussed with President Obama during their visit to the White House after Rio. “We talked about if we could have a sleepover with his daughters.” They jokingly asked “if he could adopt us so we could live in the White House with them.”

In reality, though, Biles glows when talking about her actual adoptive parents. “They taught me how to trust people, how to trust situations. Because I think that was one of the biggest fears we had going in, when we moved with them. We had trust issues because we had been moved so many times,” she told Couric.

“They’ve taught me how to be confident, how to do whatever I wanted, and go for it 100 percent. So they’ve taught me a lot. And I think that’s why I am the young woman I am today.”

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