As Simone Biles continues to dominate the Rio Olympic Games, earning three gold medals so far, there’s one person cheering her on that fans wouldn’t normally expect — one of her fiercest gymnastic rivals from Romania, 20-year-old
On Sunday night, lordache
tweeted from her official Twitter account [sic]: “good luck @Simone_Biles in finals. cheering for you love & miss you”
— Larisa Iordache (@Larisa_Iordache) August 14, 2016
The tweet was accompanied by several pictures of Biles and lordache embracing at matches as well as a quote from The New Yorker profile on Biles by Reeves Wideman where he describes the moment Biles found out lordache would not be competing in the Olympic Games in 2016.
In April, I was having dinner at the Bileses’ home when Simone found out that the Romanian team, a traditional gymnastics powerhouse, had not qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 1972. “Does this mean Larisa doesn’t get to go?” Biles said, referring to lordache, who took silver and bronze behind Biles at the previous two world championships. “That’s so sad.” Her disappointment was genuine, and I found myself trying to imagine Novak Djokovic being disappointed that Andy Murray was going to have to miss the U.S. Open. “I had to remind her,” [Aimee] Boorman [her coach] told me later.” ‘I hope it’s Larisa for Larisa’s sake, but Larisa’s the only person who’s gotten close to beating you.'”
lordache is a gymnastics powerhouse. She’s won a total of 29 international medals — winning two all-around medals at the last two world championships — and was a main player in the London 2012 Olympics where she helped the Romanian team to a bronze medal.
The gymnast injured her finger earlier this year and had to undergo surgery, which prevented lordache from competing in Rio.
But Biles seemed truly bummed that one of her toughest competitors couldn’t qualify for the 2016 games because she was looking forward to seeing her friend more than she was worried about losing to her in the competition.
This is not the first time we’ve seen the bond of Biles and lordache. During the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Nanning, China, they had quite the camaraderie. “Simone [Biles] and Larisa lordache of Romania joked around the entire championships and cheered for each other as if they were teammates,” said the blog The Couch Gymnast about the competition.
And it’s not just her competitors. Biles is hugely supportive of Team USA, even saying she was “more proud” of Aly Raisman’s silver medal than for her own gold medal because of the amount of work Raisman had put into her comeback.
Raisman — who is jokingly referred to as the “grandma” of the Final Five squad at 22 years old (Biles is 19) — quoted Biles on her Instagram to thank her for the support:
It’s just another reason Biles is ahead of the competition — not only for her skills, but also for her sportsmanship.
Biles is not done yet either. She still has two individual events left, the beam and the floor exercise, meaning she still has a shot to leave Rio with five gold medals.
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