Simone Biles Soars, Lifting Another Country With Her
NY Times... BELIZE CITY, Belize — One o’clock arrived. Relatives gathered at a hotel bar to watch Olympic gymnastics on television. So did the first lady of Belize and 11 contestants in the coming Miss Belize pageant, wearing their sashes and carrying tiny flags. But where was Simone Biles?
The women’s individual all-around competition had begun 4,000 miles away on Thursday afternoon at the Rio Games. Biles, 19, was the heavy American favorite, but there was also anticipation in an unlikely place, the tiny Central American country of Belize, where she holds dual citizenship.
Phone calls were made. Television channels were changed. Beauty contestants were perplexed. Still no live gymnastics.
Finally, after 30 minutes, the live feed began on Caribbean television. Biles had already performed her vault routine, but the delayed start did not mute the ecstatic cheering that greeted her second gold medal at the Rio Games.
There are big stories unfolding in Belize, including a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed gay rights and the cleanup from Hurricane Earl, which churned through last week. But interest in Biles also has resonated here, in the country’s economic capital, as evidenced everywhere from the Prime Minister’s residence to the shade of a local plum tree, painted purple and gold, where tour guides talk politics and play dominoes.