Simone Biles, who has redefined gymnastics‘ possibilities over the last decade, will compete for the first time in almost seven years on Saturday. She won two gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but pulled out of five events to focus on her mental and physical health.
Many gymnastics aficionados believe this is her first step towards competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Tickets for the U.S. Classic tournament were sold out weeks in advance. That’s probably due to 26-year-old Biles, who has a good shot of shattering a number of world and Olympic records in the next year.
As the last chance for competitors to earn a spot in next month’s national finals, this competition has its strongest roster ever. According to a statistic by the podcast GymCastic, the competitors have won 55 medals between the Olympics and world championships.
Biles has 32 of these awards to her name. Her speed, agility, and strength are unparalleled, and she can do feats that no other female gymnast can, such as a double back flip with three twists on the floor exercise apparatus and a vault known as a Yurchenko double pike.
The international gymnastics federation gave Biles fewer points than many had hoped for her 2019 debut of an original skill—a beam dismount of a double-twisting double back flip—because of the risk it posed to gymnasts. Biles’s double pike vault also received a lesser score.
If past performance is any indication, Biles should be ready to compete at the highest level again this weekend. She rested for two years after the 2016 Olympics in Rio before claiming the all-around crown at the 2018 national championships by a commanding 6.55-point lead. following, she went on to win an additional eleven medals throughout the following two world championships. There were nine golden ones.
Biles had “twisties,” as gymnasts refer to a mental disconnection during an aerial routine, in Tokyo. She opted out of the all-around, vault, uneven bars, and floor exercise finals because she was unable to complete and land her abilities safely. She won a bronze medal on the balancing beam and a silver medal in the team event before leaving Japan.
There was speculation that Biles would retire from gymnastics. She embarked on a 35-city gymnastics tour as the headliner in the autumn of 2021. She tied the knot with Green Bay Packers defensive back Jonathan Owens earlier this year. She and Owens started construction on a home and took a bunch of pals to warm, sunny places.
Biles said about a month ago that she was back in training and will be competing in the U.S. Classic. This competition is more of a dress rehearsal than anything else, since on August 27 she will be competing in San Jose, California, for what would be her ninth national all-around championship.
In the autumn, there would be the global championships in Belgium. And by the next summer, it’s feasible that the United States squad will be the most formidable ever assembled. Sunisa Lee, Gabrielle Douglas, Jade Carey, and Jordan Chiles are all competing for slots on the five-person group that will fly to Paris, along with Olympic alternates Leanne Wong and Kayla DiCello.
Only Douglas, 27, the 2012 all-around champion and 2016 team gold medallist, will not be participating until the next year. Last month, she declared her intention to return to competition.
Lee, the current Olympic all-around champion and a top performer on the uneven bars, is likely to compete on both the balance beam and floor exercise at the Classic. However, she does not have Biles’s crystal-clear future ahead of her.
Lee, who prefers to be called Suni, had to end her college career early due to health problems, which were reportedly related to her kidneys. She can only participate in two events this weekend, but if she does well in both, she may petition U.S.A. Gymnastics to go on to the national championships and even the global championships if she qualifies.
GymCastic presenter Jessica O’Beirne predicted that if both Biles and Lee went to Belgium, they would make history as the first Olympic all-around winners to participate on the same world championship squad.
They’ll be playing the Classic’s Saturday night session, which starts at 8 p.m. Eastern. Peacock will be streaming the event live, and CNBC will show it afterwards.