USA

Simone Biles wins record ninth national championship and qualifies for Olympic trials

Simone Biles won a ninth U.S. all-around championship in Fort Worth, Texas, earning her an automatic berth to the U.S. Olympic Trials ahead of the Paris Games.

Biles, 37 times world and Olympic medalist, also won national titles on all four apparatus at the U.S. Championships.

The top two finishers – Biles and Skye Blakely – automatically qualified for the Olympic Trials, which will be held June 27-30 in Minneapolis. The five gymnasts representing the United States at the Paris Olympics this summer will then be named.

Kayla DiCello, Suni Lee and Jordan Chiles round out the top five. At least 10 additional women, determined by a selection committee, will join the automatic qualifiers.

Biles began her night on the balance beam, where she got a 14.800 with an almost flawless routine. On the floor exercise, Biles went out of bounds on her eponymous triple-twisting double backflip, but still posted a 15.100.

She fell on vault while performing another skill that bears her name in the code of points, a Yurchenko double pike or the “Biles II.” The difficulty of the jump is so high that Biles scored a 15,000 despite falling.

Biles won her ninth national all-around title on the uneven bars in the final rotation, with a score of 14.400.

Blakely, who was a member of the 2022 and 2023 world championship teams, boosted her Parisian hopes by throwing an improved vault. She punched her ticket to the Olympic Trials as an all-around runner-up behind Biles and established herself as a medal threat in the event.

Lee, the reigning Olympic all-around champion, competed in all four events for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics. After battling kidney problems for much of last season, Lee had a strong performance in Friday’s competition, but abandoned her vault on Sunday.

She placed fourth in the all-around, but her world-class routines on the balance beam (14.900) and uneven bars (14.500) make her a prime candidate for the Paris team.

During the first of two days of competition in Fort Worth, Biles distanced herself from the rest of the field, maintaining a 3.4-point lead over her closest competitor with a 60.450 in the all-around. Biles’ score Friday was his highest since the 2021 Olympic Trials.

Six-time world medalist Shilese Jones withdrew from the Championships hours before Friday’s competition due to a shoulder injury. She filed a request with USA Gymnastics to compete in the Olympic trials, which was approved Sunday.

Jones had cemented herself as Team USA’s strongest asset behind Biles at the Core Hydration Classic in May, finishing second in the all-around and winning the uneven bars.

Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic all-around gold medalist, also withdrew last week after suffering a season-ending ankle injury, ending her Paris hopes. Douglas was aiming for his third Olympic team after an eight-year hiatus from the sport.

The U.S. men’s gymnastics team competing in Paris will also be selected in Minneapolis. Brody Malone won his third national all-around title on Saturday after dealing with a serious knee injury last season. Frederick Richard, the reigning world all-around bronze medalist, took silver behind Malone and won the floor exercise.

Biles kicked off his 2024 season with a dominant victory at the Core Hydration Classic.

The Classic was her first time competing since the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, in October, when she won a historic sixth world individual all-around title, medaled in three of four events and led the Americans to their seventh consecutive victory in the team competition.

If Biles, 27, is named to the U.S. Olympic team in Paris, she will be the first American since Dominique Dawes to make three Olympic teams.

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News Source : www.nbcnews.com

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