Simone Biles won a record eighth United States Championship on Sunday, a full decade after winning her first as a 16-year-old in Houston.
Biles, now a 26-year-old groom considered perhaps the greatest of all time, posted a two-day total of 118.40, four points clear of runner-up Shilese Jones. Florida junior Leanne Wong finished third, bolstering her chances of making a third straight team at the world championships.
Biles is all but certain to return to the gym where she won her first world title in 2013. During two electric nights at the SAP Center, she remarked that even after a two-year hiatus after the Tokyo Olympics, in gymnastics there is the one called GOAT and there is everyone.
Biles became the oldest woman to win a national title since USA Gymnastics began hosting the event in 1963. Her eight crowns surpassed her Alfred Jochim, who won seven between 1925 and 1933 when Union of amateur athletics organized the championships and events of the men’s competition. included rope climbing.
Simone Biles warming up ahead of day four of the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships
“I don’t think about numbers,” said Biles, who married Green Bay Packers guard Jeremy Owens in April. “I think about my performance. And I think overall I hit 8 out of 8. I guess that’s a lucky number this year.
The sport has come a long way in the last century. No one has spent more time on the Bell end of the curve than Biles, who has spent 10 years using his singular talents to push the boundaries in multiple ways.
Spikes aren’t meant to last that long. Most 26-year-old elite gymnasts — at least those who haven’t retired — just hope to keep what they have.
Biles isn’t interested in that. It never was. She finds repetition boring. She insists this time that she’s doing it “for herself” and her markedly different approach to her work offers tangible proof that she’s not lying.
Rather than let the world into her journey as she eyes a third Olympics, she has kept most of her training under wraps, more interested in sharing glimpses of her life away from the gym.
“I like to keep (my goals) personal, just so I know what I’m aiming for,” Biles said. “I think it’s better that way. I’m trying to move a little differently this year than in the past. I think it’s working so far, so I’ll keep it a secret.
Biles and Jeremy Owens (left) announced their engagement in February 2022
Packers safety Jonathan Owens (34) kisses his wife, Simone Biles, after a preseason game
There seems to be more balance in her life, relying on the “it’s just gymnastics” mantra that has helped her rise.
Age has yet to catch up with her, although she played a relatively cautious role – by her standards – on Sunday. She twisted her right ankle in practice on Saturday, which led her to forfeit the double Yurchenko pike jump which she landed almost perfectly on the opening night of the competition on Friday.
The 14.850 she received for her Cheng Vault was still the highest of the night of the event. Just like the 14.8 she obtained on beam. The 15.400 which also earned her a standing ovation when she finished.
Next up will be Antwerp at the end of September, where Biles will look to add to the 25 medals – including 18 gold – she has won so far in her unprecedented career.
Jones thinks he’s also on the plane. The 21-year-old is a marvel in bars, where she thrives despite being tall (5ft 6in) for someone who chooses to do this for a living. The crowd erupted when she nailed her run, her score of 15,000 was the best of the event’s competition and put 10 injury-filled months that slowed her training behind her.
Shi Jones, Biles and Leanne Wong pose for photos after finishing second, first and third
Simone Biles in action on balance beam at the USA Gymnastics Championships
Who will join Jones and Biles at worlds remains highly uncertain.
Defending Olympic champion Sunisa Lee, who has spent most of the year battling a kidney problem her doctors are still trying to get under control, may have a chance as a specialist after establishing a solid routine at the beam.
Wong, one of many athletes trying to compete at the NCAA and elite levels at the same time, put on two standout nights featuring a sleek bar routine and a floor exercise that makes up for in precision what he lacks in power.
Biles’ 2020 Olympics teammates Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles, who have also spent the last two years splitting their time between college and the elite, weren’t quite as sharp. The chilis fell off the bars and the beam. Carey finished in the top 10 in only one event – the vault – where Americans think they are loaded.