Biles continues Olympic build-up with ninth all-around US gymnastics title

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Simone Biles competes in the floor exercise on the way to a ninth national all-around title at the US Gymnastics championships (ELSA)

Simone Biles competes in the floor exercise on the way to a ninth national all-around title at the US Gymnastics championships (ELSA)

Simone Biles won a record-extending ninth US all-around gymnastics title Sunday, signalling she’s a force in the sport as the Paris Olympics approach even as a couple of miscues gave her something to work on before the US trials.

“Today it’s just getting out here, getting comfortable and confident in my gymnastics, and hopefully going to Olympic trials and making that next step towards Paris,” Biles told broadcaster NBC after piling up 59.300 points on the second night of competition to take her total to 119.750.

She was almost six points clear of runner-up Skye Blakely, who totalled 113.850 with Kayla DiCello taking bronze with 110.800.

The top two finishers were assured of berths at the Olympic trials June 27-30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where at least a dozen athletes are expected to make their final case for a trip to Paris.

Biles had cracked 60 points on the first night of competition on Friday, and while she couldn’t match that, she earned gold on all four apparatus.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how I’m doing this time in the year, and just gaining that confidence over and over, getting myself back in front of a crowd and just doing what I do in practice,” Biles said.

The sheer power that has helped Biles grab four Olympic gold medals and build an array of daunting signature skills was in evidence in her few errors.

She stepped out of bounds after her triple-twisting double somersault in floor exercise and skittered backwards onto her back on the landing of her Yurchenko double pike vault.

The vault is so difficult that she still scored 15.00 points — down from the 15.800 she earned on Friday.

Biles said she has no trouble taking that kind of mistake in stride.

“It’s not my first time out there,” she said. “I’m a little bit older, so I know exactly how to kind of reboot and re-collect myself to move on to the next event, even if I feel like something wasn’t how I wanted it to go.”

Among those who will be trying to punch their tickets to Paris later this month, Blakely displayed impressive consistency over two days and Suni Lee, the Tokyo Olympic all-around champion, was an impressive fourth place as she continues her return from career-threatening kidney disease.

Shortly after competition ended, USA Gymnastics confirmed it had accepted petitions from Shilese Jones and Kaliya Lincoln to compete at trials, despite injuries this week.

Jones withdrew with a shoulder injury while Lincoln pulled out after two apparatus on Friday with an ankle injury.


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