Simone Biles landed a near-impossible jump on Thursday while training for the Tokyo Olympics as she tries to add something to her already storied gymnastics career.
Footage from the four-time Olympic gold medalist shows the 24-year-old Ohio native nearly nailing a double pike Yurchenko vault, one of the sport’s most difficult moves.
The jaw-dropping move requires Biles to perform a vault backflip, then complete two full rotations in the pike position.
Her practice run had such momentum that when she landed on the mat, she took a tiny step back to maintain her balance.
Biles runs to the vault as she prepares to perform the risky Yurchenko double pike vault during training for the Tokyo Olympics
The double pike Yurchenko vault, previously done only by men in international competitions, will become the last to bear her name in the sport’s points code if she can land it in Japan
The move starts with a single flip, but Biles chose to add an extra flip to the vault to increase the difficulty,
Despite taking two steps back, she’s nailing the move
A Yurchenko — named after Natalia Yurchenko, a Russian gymnast who first performed the skill in the early 1980s — starts with a rounding on the springboard, then a spring back hand on the vault, followed by a back flip with straight legs. Biles increased the difficulty by doing a double pike.
Biles could make the move when the women’s league kicks off on Saturday. If she lands the maneuver, it will be the fifth technique, called The Biles. She already has moves that belong to her on the jump, the balance beam and the floor exercise.
The gymnast, who is also head over heels in love with NFL player Jonathan Owens, made history in May when she successfully landed the double Yurchenko, hence The Biles, at the US Classic in Indianapolis.
Before that time, no other female athlete had ever performed the move in a competition. Only a handful of men have even tried a double Yurchenko.
Biles completed a successful Yurchenko vault with double pike for the first time in May. She is shown here running to the vault
Up and at ’em: she then performs a round up on the springboard, leading to a backward handspring on the vault itself, before flipping back twice while in the pike position
Sky-high: Simone’s vault sees her soar into the air above the table, giving her plenty of time to complete the two flips before she sees the ground for her landing
Nearly perfect: Simone landed the vault seemingly easily, taking only a small step back to keep her balance
At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Biles won gold in the vault after stabbing a two-and-a-half spinning Yurchenko as one of her two moves. She also won gold medals in the all-around, floor and as a member of the USA winning team competition.
She also took bronze on the balance beam in Rio and has a total of 30 Olympic and World Cup medals.
Ahead of the 2021 Games, she has gone one step further on the vault by adding two flips – greatly increasing the difficulty and risk.
If a vaulter does not turn enough during the double flip, it could lead to head or neck injuries.
Biles’ coach Laurent Landi told NBC that Biles might not really use the move in the singles competition because of the risk it is.
“If she really wants to do it, she’ll have to beg me,” Landi said. “People seem to forget it’s a very, very dangerous skill.”
However, Landi said it would be “smart thinking” if Biles made the move during the team competitions final.
The gymnastics events begin with qualifying on Saturday and run through August 3.
American gymnasts Jordan Chiles (left) and Simone Biles pose after training at the Ariake Gymnastics Center in Tokyo
Hilarious: Biles noted that Owens would say she ‘slid into his DMS’ when they first met
Look of love: Biles and Owens, who met during the pandemic, have been together for over a year
Support System: Owens stood by Biles’ side as she trained for the Tokyo Olympics
About Simon Biles
- Born March 14, 1997 in Columbus, Ohio
- Competed for the US team at the 2016 Rio Olympics
- Won four gold medals in team, all-round, vault and floor
- She is the second oldest member of this year’s U.S. Olympic gymnastics team
- Biles has 19 gold medals from five World Cup appearances
- She has won the all-round and floor exercise every year since 2013
- She has four gymnastics moves named after her, two on the floor, one on the beam and one on the jump