Simone Biles Becomes 1st Woman to Win 5 US All-Around Gymnastics Championships
BOSTON (AP) — Two years after winning four gold medals in at the 2016 Summer Games, Olympic champion Simone Biles has somehow reached another level. She posted a two-day total of 119.850, more than six points ahead of reigning world champion Morgan Hurd and a full seven points clear of Riley McCusker. Biles’ margin of victory was greater than the gap between Hurd and 11th-place finisher Jordan Chiles.
“She pushes us,” McCusker said. “I’m honestly just in awe of her.”
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) August 20, 2018
Biles is the second woman to win nationals five times, joining Clara Schroth Lomady, who won six between 1945 and 1952. Biles also became the first woman since three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes in 1994 to wind up first on floor exercise, balance beam, vault and uneven bars.
“It was shocking then (in ’94) and it’s shocking now, too,” said high performance coordinator Tom Forster.
Forster and the rest of the world might want to get used to it. Again.
A year ago, Biles was wrapping up a post-Olympic whirlwind. She basked in the aftermath of her glorious run at the 2016 Olympics in which she brought home a record-tying five medals and entered the “first-name” pantheon in her sport, a club that includes fellow Olympic champions Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton.
Biles, however, is making a compelling case for a class all her own.
She didn’t get serious about a return until last fall, when she went back into training with new coaches in Laurent and Cecile Landi intent on not just returning to the form that made her one of the stars in Rio de Janeiro but seeing just how far she could push herself and her sport.
Two meets into her comeback, the possibilities are staggering. Her all-around score of 60.1 during the opening round Friday marked the highest in competition since she and Olympic teammate Aly Raisman both topped the 60-point barrier during the all-around finals in Brazil.
Biles worried a bit about her endurance after cramming two meets in a span of three weeks. She wasn’t quite as sharp Sunday as she was Friday — scoring a bit lower on bars and beam — but it hardly mattered. She was so far ahead coming into the finals, she needed do little more than stay upright to finish the night atop the podium.
“I kind of thought I’d be a nervous wreck and maybe fall apart,” Biles said. “Going into these events, I kept telling my family, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to calm myself down the way I did before and handle the nerves.’ But so far, so good.”
Biles will get a chance to add to her 14 world championship medals when she leads Team USA to Qatar in October. Hurd, McCusker and vault specialist Jordan Chiles figure to be on the plane, too. Whoever earns the fifth spot will join a team heavily favored to continue its international supremacy.
The Americans have won every major international team competition since the 2011 world championships, a run that figures to continue indefinitely with Biles doing things no gymnast has ever done.
“You can’t be that lucky,” Forster said. “So that is just hard work and training and dedication and determination. It’s pretty awesome to witness.”