U.S. gymnastics trials: Simone Biles wins all-around, makes Olympics for third time

In a historically difficult selection process, one choice was easy.

Simone Biles will be on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team for the Paris Olympics.

The 27-year-old earned her third consecutive Olympic berth by winning the Olympic trial all-around crown Sunday at Target Center. She entered the second day of competition with a 2.5-point lead and finished with a score of 117.225, five points better than her nearest competitor. The seven-time Olympic medalist’s all-around victory earned her an automatic spot on the Olympic team.

After hitting her floor routine in the final rotation, Biles could finally exhale. She sat at the top of the stairs on the floor podium and sighed.

“Oh my God,” she muttered.

Chiles made her second Olympic team after a third-place all-around finish. Injuries to three key contenders cleared the path to Paris for a unique veteran-laden team that will also include Olympic gold medalists Suni Lee and Jade Carey. The reigning Olympic all-around champion Lee finished second in the two-day trial competition, continuing a triumphant return after two kidney diseases threatened her future. Carey, the 2021 Olympic floor champion, finished fourth in the all-around.

The group of Olympic veterans will lead the way for rookie Hezly Rivera, who survived a tight race against 18-year-old Joscelyn Roberson for the final position. Roberson and Leanne Wong were named alternates.

Rivera and Roberson tied on beam — a key event for the United States scoring scenarios — at trials, but Rivera finished with a 0.175-point advantage for fifth place in the all-around, doubling down on her sixth-place finish at U.S. championships.

Rivera turned 16 just two days after the championships last month. Having just become age eligible for the senior elite level this year, Rivera’s only senior international competition was at the City of Jesolo Trophy, where she helped the United States to a bronze medal finish.

The team is the oldest women’s artistic gymnastics team in history, with four of five competitors returning for at least a second Games.

Skye Blakely, 19, and Shilese Jones, 21, were favorites to make their first Olympic teams this weekend, but both had to withdraw after injuries. Blakely’s Achilles tear on Wednesday and Jones’ knee injury, combined with an Achilles injury suffered in competition on Friday by 2021 Olympic alternate Kayla DiCello, suddenly limited the selection pool that was one of the deepest in history.

The veteran team will attempt to win the United States’ third Olympic gold medal in the past four Games. The silver medal finish in Tokyo continued the United States’ Olympic podium streak to eight Games, but it is more commonly remembered as the time Biles quit the team final.

After the most decorated athlete in the sport questioned whether she would ever compete again. It wasn’t a question of whether she could handle the physical toll. She just wondered if she could do it all — the daily training, the scrutiny, the attention — mentally. During her first day back, she didn’t think she could.

“That was the hardest part after Tokyo: I didn’t trust myself to do gymnastics,” Biles said at the U.S. championships last month. “I knew that it would come if I started training again, but it was really hard to trust just myself.”

Biles did not just return, but she continued to redefine the sport. Her Biles II vault — a Yurchenko double pike that no other woman in history has dared to attempt in competition – wowed the sold out crowd again Sunday even though she had so much power that she was forced to run backward several steps to catch herself at the edge of the platform. She still had no problem blowing away the vault competition with a two-day score of 74.400 on the event.

Sitting on the floor podium after the event, Biles credited her focus on her mental health with allowing her to return to the Olympics.

“Seeing my therapist every Thursday,” Biles said in an in-arena interview to a loud cheer from the crowd. “It’s kind of religious for me.”

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