USA

Simone Biles heading to her 9th US Gymnastics Championship

By WILL GRAVES AP National Editor

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

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 significant momentum heading into the Olympic trials later 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.

California Daily Newspapers

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