Biles makes another US championship look easy

By Victor Mather

The U.S. Gymnastics Championships concluded over the weekend, and few could have been surprised that Simone Biles dominated the competition.

Despite a few uncharacteristic mistakes Friday that she chalked up to an abundance of power and adrenaline, Biles, 24, coasted to her record seventh U.S. title Sunday night in Fort Worth, Texas. Biles won three of the four events Sunday, and she did so even while leaving in reserve some of her best tricks, including a vault so technically advanced that other gymnasts won’t even attempt it.

“It’s really emotional, especially going into my second time doing an Olympic run; it’s really crazy,” said Biles, who has won every all-around competition she has entered since 2013.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” she added, “but it’s been a lot of stress, too.”

Biles has dominated world gymnastics for eight years. But because she and every other gymnast have been mostly idle during the pandemic, there were always going to be questions about how she would perform back on the big stage.

Biles left no doubt at the U.S. Championships, winning the overall title by a comfortable 4.7-point margin. She won three of the four events and was third in the bars.

Biles performed better on the second day of the meet than she had Saturday, another good sign. On Day 1, she stepped out of bounds three times during the floor exercise. On Day 2, she did so only once.

“It’s so crazy because in training I never go out of bounds, and I never have this much power,” Biles told reporters. “But with the adrenaline, that’s where it comes.”

Missing from Biles’ routine was the Yurchenko double-pike vault that dazzled at the U.S. Classic last month. In that move, Biles starts with a back handspring then flips twice in a pike position before landing. It is so technically difficult — and thus potentially dangerous — that no other woman has even attempted it in competition.

Instead, Biles performed two vaults that are more routine, at least for her, called the Cheng and the Amanar. It is expected that she will bring back the Yurchenko double pike at the Games.

Biles won four of a possible six gold medals in Rio, losing only on bars and beam. It’s not unthinkable that she will better that performance in Tokyo.

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