2016 Rio Olympic Favorites Published on September 18, 2016 The 2016 Rio Olympics took place in August 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 went home with four gold medals and a bronze, killing it in Women’s Gymnastics. Her story is indeed an inspirational one. When her mother could not care for Simone and her siblings due to a drug problem, Simone and her siblings were settled into foster care until Simone was six years old. Simone’s mother’s father and his wife adopted Simone and her sister, while another member of the family adopted the two elder children. After Simone returned home with a yearning to do gymnastics after a school trip to a gym, her parents placed her in a gym 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 began racing in high school after his friend asked Andre to come and support him in track. Tony Sharpe, 1984 Olympian, saw Andre and began training him. After Andre’s success at the 2016 Rio Olympics, some are speculating that he’ll fill the shoes of Usain Bolt when Bolt retires in 2017. Katie Ledecky (USA) Katie earned her original gold at her first appearance at the 2012 London Olympics at the young age of 15. When she returned home from Rio four years later, she had won the most medals of any female athlete from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Now, after the cheering had ceased and everyone has returned home, Katie is going to Stanford to start another chapter of her life. She is contemplating studying psychology or government but hasn’t settled on one yet, but definitely knows she’d like to be in Japan in four years. Penny Oleksiak (Canada) With her impressive show at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Penny came home as Canada’s youngest Olympic champion. After watching her in August, you’d never expect that Penny was actually turned down by numerous swim clubs when she was in elementary school because she couldn’t swim the complete length of the pool. Coach Gary Nolden at the Toronto Olympian Swim Team saw something in her 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 first appearance at the young age of 15 and was the youngest American swimmer picked for the Olympic Games in nearly 70 years. Including the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Michael has been chosen for five Summer Olympic Games, and has won 28 total medals, making Michael the most decorated Olympian ever. He confirmed that the 2016 Rio Olympics would be his last, and we can’t blame him for wanting to spend more time with his adorable son, Boomer. Erica Wiebe (Canada) Even though she won a gold medal in women’s wresting at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Erica spent her childhood dreaming of being a soccer player. It wasn’t until 9th grade that Erica came across a sign for Co-Ed Wresting practice that she thought about another sport. And we are thrilled that she did. The Olympic champion not only does amazing on the mat, but also encourages and empowers kids and women as an ambassador for Right to Play, KidSport Calgary, and Fast & Female.