2016 Rio Olympic Favorites Published on September 18, 2016 The 2016 Rio Olympics ended August 21st and left us wanting more. Take a look at a handful of North American favorites, some familiar names and some new. Simone Biles (USA) Simone walked away with four golds and one broze, making quite a name for herself in Women’s Gymnastics. Her tale is certainly an inspirational one. When her mother was no longer able to care for Simone and her brothers and sisters due to a drug dependency, Simone and her siblings were put into foster care until Simone was six years old. Simone’s maternal grandfather and his wife adopted Simone and her sister, while another member of the family adopted the two elder children. After Simone arrived home with a yearning to do gymnastics after a field trip to a gym, her parents put her in a program and the rest is history. Andre De Grasse (Canada) Andre gets his running talent naturally. His mom was a sprinter in high school and passed both her ability and her Catholic faith onto her son. Andre started racing in high school after a friend asked Andre to come out and support him in track. Tony Sharpe, 1984 Olympian, came across Andre and decided to train him. After Andre’s success at the 2016 Rio Olympics, some are speculating that he’ll fill the shoes of Usain Bolt when Usain retires in 2017. Katie Ledecky (USA) Katie earned her initial gold at her premiere at the 2012 London Olympics at only 15 years old. When she returned home from Rio four years later, she was the most decorated female athlete for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Now, after the torch flame has been blown out and everyone has made it home, Katie is on her way to Stanford to embark on another chapter of her life. She is contemplating studying psychology or government but hasn’t made a decision yet, but absolutely knows she’d like to be in Japan in four years. Penny Oleksiak (Canada) With her amazing performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Penny returned home as Canada’s youngest Olympic champion. After seeing her in August, you may not expect that Penny was actually rejected by several swim clubs when she was only nine because she was not able to swim the entire length of the pool. Coach Gary Nolden from the Toronto Olympian Swim Team saw something in Penny and decided to take her in, thus beginning her swimming career. Michael Phelps (USA) Michael took up swimming at only seven years old to give him an outlet and aided in managing his Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Like Katie, Michael made his Olympic debut at only 15 and was the youngest American swimmer picked for the Olympic Games in about 70 years. If you include the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Michael has been asked to five Summer Olympic Games, and has earned 28 total medals, making the 31 year old the most decorated Olympian ever. He said that the 2016 Rio Olympics would be his career ender, and we can’t blame him for wanting to spend more time with his infant son, Boomer. Erica Wiebe (Canada) Regardless of winning the gold in women’s wresting at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Erica grew up with the hope of being a soccer player. It wasn’t until grade 9 that Erica saw a sign for Co-Ed Wresting practice that she considered another sport. But we are excited that she did. The Olympic champion not only does fantastic on the mat, but also motivates and empowers kids and women as an ambassador for Fast & Female, Right to Play, and KidSport Calgary.