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Gabby Douglas hesitates, Simone Biles shines in Olympic qualifying event

Gabby Douglas, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, was hoping to use Saturday’s US Classic, a key Olympic qualifying event, as a springboard to secure her place on the team that heads to Paris this summer.

However, the 2012 Olympics The all-around and team champion struggled on the uneven bars – falling twice – before withdrawing from the rest of the remaining events. The withdrawal means the 28-year-old will fail to qualify for the all-around at the US championships which begin on May 30.

American classical gymnastics
Gabby Douglas competes on the uneven bars during the US Classic gymnastics event on Saturday, May 18, 2024 in Hartford, Connecticut.

Bryan Woolston/AP


Douglas, who had moved away from the sport, returned to training last year in hopes of making the team for Paris. The Olympic trials are scheduled to begin at the end of June.

Meanwhile, superstar Simone Biles looks ready for Paris. In Saturday’s event, the 27-year-old 2016 Olympic champion earned an overall score of 59.500, nearly two points ahead of runner-up Shilese Jones.

Biles also recorded the highest score on the vault and floor exercises and came in second on the uneven bars and balance beam.

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

She used a handful of her signature skills, including hitting Yurchenko’s double pike on vault and a tumbling pass that ended with a double flip to triple twist.

American classical gymnastics
Simone Biles prepares to compete on the balance beam during the US Classic gymnastics event on Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Hartford, Connecticut.

Bryan Woolston/AP


Biles completed the vault — which requires her to clasp her hands to her knees as she flips backwards twice — as coach Laurent Landi watched from the sidelines. Landi had stood on the podium to spot Biles in previous attempts, a decision that cost her a neutral half-point deduction.

While Biles wasn’t perfect — she took a few steps back on her descent from the vault and caught so much air on the triple-double that she landed out of bounds — her mix of difficulty and precision remains the norm in the sport.

Biles is a virtual lock to make the five-woman U.S. Olympic team if she stays healthy. The big question to answer over the next six weeks is who will join her in France.

Jones was brilliant on bars and steady everywhere else. Sunisa Lee, who won the Olympic title at the 2020 Tokyo Games, has suffered from kidney problems for 18 months that make training difficult. She competed in three events and her elegant beam routine earned her a 14.600, a touch ahead of the 14.550 achieved by Biles.

American classical gymnastics
Jordan Chiles competes on the floor exercise during the US Classic gymnastics event on Saturday, May 18, 2024 in Hartford, Connecticut.

Bryan Woolston/AP


Jordan Chiles, a 2020 Olympic silver medalist, finished third in the all-around with 55.450. Jade Carey, who won gold on floor in Tokyo, finished fourth.

Konnor McClain, the 2022 U.S. champion, left the competition due to an Achilles tendon injury suffered while warming up during a floor exercise.

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