Simone Biles, 26, earned a record-setting eighth U.S. all-around victory in Simone Biles second elite competition after a two-year break, making Simone Biles the oldest gymnast to ever claim the title.
The idea that Simone Biles is the best gymnast of all time has long been accepted. When she started pushing the limits of what is possible in the sport, the argument about her standing was largely settled years ago.
She is unsurpassed in terms of consistency. Biles has won 32 world championship and Olympic medals since 2013, although withdrawing from a number of finals at the Tokyo Games in 2021 to protect her health. Typically, the question isn’t if Biles will win, but rather by how much.
At the U.S. Gymnastics Championships on Sunday, the winner outscored Shilese Jones, who won the silver medal, by a margin of 3.9 points. With her triumph, Biles became the first American gymnast, male or female, to win eight national all-around titles, shattering a record that had stood for 90 years. She’s also the oldest woman to ever win the competition at age 26.
Her return to elite competition after a two-year break coincided with the national championships. The U.S. Classic qualification meet took place earlier this month in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, and she easily won it. In a packed and skilled field at the SAP Center on Sunday, Biles looked better than ever.
She has informed her younger colleagues that “it’s just gymnastics,” thus perhaps some of that can be attributed to her mindset. Biles hasn’t specifically stated that she hopes to compete at the Paris Olympics next summer, in keeping with Simone Biles laid-back style.
After the competition, Biles remarked, “Personal objectives and everything, I believe sometimes it’s OK to keep it to ourselves, just so that nobody can throw it in your face — “Oh well, this was your goal and you didn’t hit it,” I’m kind of at the age where I just want to be left alone. One thing at a time, then.
Biles was nearly faultless on Friday, the opening night of competition. She nearly stuck the landing on a Yurchenko double pike vault, a move so difficult that few men and no other women have attempted it. Simone Biles two wobbles on beam and a step out of bounds on floor exercise were overshadowed by Simone Biles performance. Even with a half-point punishment, the maneuver, in which she pushes herself into two flips while keeping her legs straight at a 90-degree angle, received a weekend high of 15.700. She received the punishment because one of her instructors, Laurent Landi, had positioned himself next to the equipment and on the podium to ensure her safety.
Biles chose to perform just one difficult vault, the Cheng, on Sunday rather than the double pike during warm-ups or competition. Biles stung an ankle on the skill on Friday, according to Landi, so there was no need for Simone Biles to repeat it for show.
The remaining competitions, floor exercise, uneven bars, and beam, were classic Simone Biles displays of amazing height, speed, and a few brief landing hops. She won the title with a stunning 15.400 on floor, garnering the greatest applause of the tournament and a standing ovation. The floor routine was, in Landi’s words, “the best I’ve ever seen Simone Biles do.”
Her weakest event, bars, is where Biles won Simone Biles lone bronze medal while dominating all other events. She was ineligible for a medal on the last day of competition because she opted not to perform a second vault.
Biles admitted that she felt nervous before every competition, but she felt confident and ready because of how well she was practicing. “Age helps,” she remarked. “I can’t afford to go to the gym and work out for all those hours,” you say.
She chose “happy” and “hungry” for supper when asked to choose two words that best reflected her sentiments following the championships. She continued, “Happy that it’s over and happy that I’m back out here competing.”
The most devoted gymnastics supporters have had a great season thus far in 2023. These competitions featured two Tokyo alternates, Kayla DiCello and Leanne Wong, as well as four members of the Tokyo team: Biles, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, and Sunisa Lee. Skye Blakely, who finished fourth in the all-around on Sunday, and Jones, who won the silver medal in the all-around at the 2022 world championships, are definitely finding their groove.
The 2012 Olympic all-around winner, Gabrielle Douglas, has said she’ll compete once more.
On Sunday, the simultaneous performance of gymnasts on four equipment made it difficult to follow every twist and turn. As the U.S. all-around silver medalist, Jones, who recently stated that she is recovering from a torn labrum in her shoulder and from ankle problems, had an especially strong beam routine to duplicate. Wong, who competes for Florida in college, finished third and had some of her finest floor landings ever.
The five gymnasts and one alternate chosen to represent the United States at the global championships in Belgium in just five weeks may include all of the best women. The U.S. delegation will be chosen through a separate team selection camp, so gymnasts like Lee, Carey, and Chiles, who committed out-of-character errors this weekend, are still in the running.
The current Olympic all-around champion, Lee, who most recently competed for Auburn, is recovering from renal issues and only participated on the vault and beam. She slipped off the beam on Friday but got back up on Sunday to place third.
Carey, the Oregon State gymnast who won the floor exercise title in Tokyo, had falls on beam both nights and placed a dismal 15th in the all-around. She placed third on the vault behind Blakely and Jocelyn Roberson, a fellow teenager who trains with Biles. Chiles, a U.C. Los Angeles gymnast who works with Biles, had a difficult evening, falling on the bars and beam, but rebounding on the floor to place fifth overall.