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Simone Biles continues her Olympic preparation by winning her 9th title at the United States Championships

FORT WORTH, Texas — Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles won her ninth U.S. championship on Sunday, leaving no doubt that at 27 and more than a decade after her run to the sport’s pinnacle, she’s still going strong.

Biles posted a two-day all-around total of 119.750, nearly six points ahead of runner-up Skye Blakely and leaving no doubt that she looks poised to add a second Olympic gold in the all-around competition to accompany the one she won in 2016.

In front of an audience that included her husband, Chicago Bears safety Jonathan Owens, Biles put on a four-rotation clinic that had all the marks of a typical Biles performance. There was breathtaking athleticism mixed with precision and more than a touch of swagger.

Biles finished with the highest two-day score in all four events – something she had only done once before at the national championships (2018) – to build plenty of momentum heading into the Olympic trials more late this month in Minneapolis.

Her only misstep Sunday came on vault. She failed on her double Yurchenko pike – two backflips with hands clasped behind her knees – during warm-ups and overcompensated when it counted, generating so much force that she ended up on her back. She still received a 15,000 for her effort, testament to a vault that has never been completed in competition by another woman and was only attempted by a select group of men.

Not that it bothers her. Biles composed herself, took a few deep breaths, then reeled off a jump from Cheng that was rewarded with a 15.1 and put a ninth national title within her reach, heady territory considering no other gymnast in the history of sports in the United States is only seven years old.

While Biles stays above the fray as usual, there is plenty of competition for the remaining four spots on the five-woman U.S. team that will head to Paris as heavy favorites to return to the top spot. high place on the podium after finishing second behind Russia in Tokyo three. years ago.

Blakely, 19, put in another impressive performance and will head to Minneapolis with plenty of momentum. Three years after her bid for the 2020 Olympic team ended with injury, Blakely is peaking at just the right time.

Suni Lee, the 2020 Olympic champion who spent more than a year battling kidney problems that limited her training, overcame an early mistake on vault to put together elegant routines on the uneven bars and the beam that few in the world – even Biles – can match.

Olympians Jordan Chiles and Jade Carey are in the mix, although both suffered falls on the balance beam on Sunday. Third-place finisher Kayla DiCello slipped off the uneven bars. Leanne Wong, perhaps tired after a long competitive season in Florida, also suffered some unusual errors.

Shilese Jones, considered the best all-around gymnast in the United States without the last name Biles, withdrew from the championships Friday, citing a shoulder injury, although she said Sunday she was feeling better and planned to be available for testing. So will 18-year-old Kaliya Lincoln, who opted not to compete Sunday after changing something during Friday night’s opening session.

Both – if healthy – appear to be serious contenders for an invitation to Paris (Jones in particular). If they don’t, the door could open wide for others and test the depth the elite senior program has touted for years.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

ABC News

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