Simone Biles wins US Classic ahead of hotly-anticipated Olympics return in Paris

by Admin
The Independent

Simone Biles certainly looks ready for Paris with more than two months to go before the Olympic games begin.

The gymnastics superstar began her bid for a third Olympic team looking as dominant as ever at the US Classic on Saturday, winning the all-around gold with a score of 59.500 – nearly two points clear of runner-up Shilese Jones.

The 27-year-old Biles, the 2016 Olympic champion, recorded the highest score on vault and floor exercise and came in second on uneven bars and balance beam in her 2024 debut.

“I was just happy to be back out there, get through those nerves again, feel that adrenaline,” Biles said. “I can’t really complain how the first meet back was.”

She did a handful of her signature skills, including hitting the Yurchenko double pike on vault and a tumbling pass that ends with a triple-twisting double-flip.

Biles completed the vault — which requires her to clasp her hands to her knees while she flips backward twice — with coach Laurent Landi watching from the side. Mr Landi had been standing on the podium to spot Biles during previous attempts, a decision that cost her a half-point neutral deduction.

US gymnast Simone Biles competes in the floor event during the Core Hydration Classic at XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut (AFP via Getty Images)

US gymnast Simone Biles competes in the balance beam event during the Core Hydration Classic (AFP via Getty Images)

While Biles wasn’t perfect — she took a couple of big steps back on her vault dismount and got so much air on the triple-double that she landed out of bounds — her mixture of difficulty and precision remains the standard in the sport.

Biles is a virtual lock to make the five-woman US Olympic team should she stay healthy. The big question that needs to be answered over the next six weeks is who will join her in France.

Jones was brilliant on bars and steady everywhere else and should head to the US Championships later this month and the Olympic Trials in late June with confidence.

After that, things get murky.

Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic champion, was hoping to use the US Classic as a springboard. Instead, she will leave with questions about the road ahead.

US gymnast Simone Biles competes in the uneven bars event during the Core Hydration Classic at XL Center (AFP via Getty Images)

The 28-year-old, making a comeback after an extended break following the 2016 Olympics, fell twice on uneven bars and pulled out of the four remaining events.

Sunisa Lee, who won the Olympic title at the 2020 games in Tokyo, has been battling kidney issues for the last 18 months that have made training difficult. She competed in three events and her elegant beam routine earned her a 14.600, a touch ahead of the 14.550 put up by Biles.

Jordan Chiles, a 2020 Olympic silver medalist, came in third in the all-around at 55.450. Jade Carey, who captured gold on floor in Tokyo, was fourth.

Konnor McClain, the 2022 US champion, exited the competition with an Achilles injury suffered while warming up on floor exercise.

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