Simone Biles is already the winningest gymnast in United States history.
She can add to her incredible resume this weekend by becoming the only gymnast – man or woman – to win eight all-around titles at the U.S. gymnastics championships. The competition will be held at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, and will also feature Biles’ Olympic teammate Suni Lee.
Biles, 26, made her return to gymnastics earlier this month when she won the U.S. Classic after two years away from the sport. She dropped out of most events at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after experiencing the “twisties,” a term for when a gymnast loses his or her sense of where they are in the air, and she later became an advocate for mental health.
She won her seventh U.S. championship in June 2021, weeks before the Olympic trials. That victory tied Alfred Jochim, who captured seven all-around titles nearly 100 years ago.
Keep up with live updates on Biles and the other gymnasts as they kick off the competition tonight in San Jose.
It’s Simone Biles, then everyone else
With one event to go, there’s Simone Biles … and the rest of the field. The four-time Olympic champion, competing at her first nationals since the Tokyo Games, has a 2.25-point lead over world all-around silver medalist Shilese Jones. That’s almost as big as the gap between Jones and Jordan Chiles, who is in seventh place. Tokyo alternate Leanne Wong is third, followed by Skye Blakely, Tiana Sumanasekera, Joscelyn Roberson and Chiles.
Fun fact? Four of the gymnasts in the top seven are from World Champions Centre, the gym owned by Biles’ parents.
Simone Biles takes control with breathtaking vault
Biles is the only woman to do the Yurchenko double pike in competition; she did it at the U.S. Classic earlier this month and at Classic in 2021. It’s a vault so difficult few men even try it. There’s no bailout for it, so if you don’t do it right, you’re likely to end up on your head. But Biles did it perfect, getting a perfect block off the table and great height in the air. She landed slightly off-center, but that’s nitpicking.
Her Cheng, the second-most difficult vault possible right now, was breathtaking. She flew so far she landed about midway back on the mat, though she did have to take a big hop back to control the landing. But, again, that’s nitpicking.
She had a combined score of 15.7, something no woman here will be able to touch. On any event.
Simone Biles opens up commanding lead
About this being a competition? Yeah, so much for that. Simone Biles is now 2.25 points ahead of Shilese Jones after sticking her Yurchenko double pike and following it with a massive Cheng. Jones also struggled on balance beam, having to put her hand down on the apparatus to keep herself from falling. But even without the mistake, this would no longer be a contest.
Simone Biles, Shilese Jones pulling away from pack
Midway through the meet, Simone Biles and Shilese Jones have pulled away from the rest of the field. The four-time Olympic champion and the all-around silver medalist at last year’s worlds are tied with 29.25 points. Skye Blakely is in third, 0.80 behind. Just how big a gap is that? Think of those early-season routs in college football and you get the picture.
Simone Biles’ vault upcoming
Hold the planes at San Jose airport, please. Simone Biles is on vault in the next rotation, and we expect to see her do the Yurchenko double pike, a vault no other woman has done in competition and one so difficult few men even try it. She was also warming up a Cheng before the meet, which would mean she’s going for the vault title here. Gymnasts have to do two vaults, from different families, in order to be in the running for the vault title.
Simone Biles floor exercise
This is only Biles’ second competition since the Tokyo Olympics, and her flaws are not a big surprise. She had way too much power on her third tumbling pass on floor, the Biles I, and took a big step out of bounds. But the rest of the routine was impressive, getting so much height on her tumbling passes you could have parked a mini Cooper below her. The crowd loved it, letting out shrieks of delight at every pass.
Simone Biles in tight battle with Shilese Jones
Well, well. We have a competition on our hands. Simone Biles is tied with world all-around silver medalist Shilese Jones midway through the second rotation with 29.25 points. Jones was flawless on uneven bars, her specialty, while Biles had small errors on both balance beam and floor exercise. But Biles still has vault to go, where she could put some distance between her and the rest of the field.
Suni Lee vault
Olympic champion Sunisa Lee is only doing two events at nationals, vault and balance beam, as she recovers from a kidney issue. She took a big hop back on the landing of her vault, a Yurchenko full, but she looked good in the air and her legs were glued together. Her low score — she got a 13.35 — reflects the lesser difficulty of the vault, but she scored a 9.15 in execution
Simone Biles leads after first rotation
After scoring a 14.45 on balance beam, Simone Biles has a .050 lead over Skye Blakely after the first rotation. While that appears close, Blakely started on uneven bars, her best event. Shilese Jones, the silver medalist in the all-around at last year’s world championships, is third at 14.350.
Simone Biles balance beam routine
Simone Biles recovered from a shaky start to her balance beam routine. Her right foot was slightly off-balance on her mount, causing her to wobble before she regained her balance. She also had to come out of her crouch as she neared completion of the third revolution in her wolf turn. They weren’t huge deductions, and the rest of her routine was solid. Her 14.45 put her in familiar territory: in first place.
When is Simone Biles competing again?
Simone Biles will return to action Friday night when the women’s senior competition begins at 8 p.m. ET.
Want to keep track of where Simone Biles is tonight?
She starts the night on balance beam, then moves to floor exercise, goes to vault and finishes Day 1 of the national championships on uneven bars. She’s the final competitor on bars, too.
Simone Biles met with cheers
Biles was greeted with loud cheers and screams when she was introduced Friday night in San Jose, CA. Biles grinned and waved to acknowledge fans following the applause from the crowd, which includes Biles’ mother, dad and brother.
Reigning Olympic champion Sunisa Lee and Jade Carey, the Olympic champion on floor exercise, also got enthusiastic cheers from the crowd at the SAP Center.
Is Simone Biles sending a message?
Biles and two of her World Champions Centre teammates wore purple leotards with “But still I rise” on the back for warmups Friday afternoon. The line is adapted from Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise.”
It’s not clear why Biles chose that line for the leotard, which is part of her personal GK collection, but the message was also on her competition leotard. Biles’ family wore purple T-shirts that also said “But still I rise,” too.
The poem is a tribute to persevering in the face of hardship and criticism, and Biles is no stranger to that. These are her first national championships since the Tokyo Olympics, where anxiety manifested itself in a case of “the twisties” and forced her to withdraw one event into the team final.
Biles missed four individual finals before returning for the balance beam final, where she won a bronze medal.
How to watch Simone Biles tonight
Friday night’s action at the U.S. Gymnastics championships can be seen on Peacock.
USA Gymnastics doesn’t know who called Simone Biles a ‘gold-medal token.’ That’s unacceptable.
Simone Biles deserved better from USA Gymnastics. Still does.
Her being treated like a commodity by someone with USA Gymnastics — Biles said she was called a “gold-medal token” — deserves answers, not ignorance.
Simone Biles should be judged on what she can do, not what other gymnasts can’t
Simone Biles shouldn’t be punished for giving international gymnastics officials exactly what they wanted.
The four-time Olympic champion continues to push the boundaries of the sport and it appears the International Gymnastics Federation is going to continue to push back, refusing to give the skills she does their rightful value.