More history for Simone Biles on first day of U.S. champs

Despite an off day, the four-time Olympic champion still made history at nationals in Kansas City

By Scott Bregman

Simone Biles’ night did not start as planned as women’s competition kicked off Friday (9th August) at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City, Missouri.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist became the first woman to attempt a triple-twisting, double back in competition on the floor exercise but came up short, bouncing forward and putting her hands down.

Two hours later, she bounced back as she nailed a double-twisting, double back off the balance beam.

Like so much of what Biles does, it was a feat no other gymnast has ever done in competition.

“As soon as I fell on floor, I was like, 'That’s it. I’m scratching the meet. I’m walking off the floor,'” Biles said afterward. "But I'm happy with the way I ended the meet."

Even still, she finds herself leading the standings with a total score of 58.650. Sunisa Lee (56.900) is second, followed by Jade Carey (56.100).

Groundbreaking ‘Biles’

The 22-year-old Texan already has an element named after her on both the floor exercise and vault.

Tonight, she unveiled for the first time in competition two other elements that, if she performs them successfully in international competition later this year or in 2020, could also bear her name.

“A lot of them I didn’t think were possible,” Biles said earlier in the week.

In the first rotation, it didn’t go according to plan as she bounced up out of her triple-twisting double back. Despite the 1.000 deduction, she earned a 14.350, the top score on the event. Clearly frustrated, Biles moved to the vault where she posted a 15.300.

"I feel like I compete for perfection," she said, "so whenever I don’t do that, it really irritates me."

In rotation three, Biles came up short on her double-double dismount on the bars and earned a 14.050.

"We're not getting along right now," Biles joked of her relationship with the uneven bars. "But that's OK, that's OK."

Biles went on to make history in the final rotation – as she’s likely to do almost every time she take the floor between now and the Tokyo Olympics. She took her time, setting up for the most difficult dismount ever performed off the balance beam.

The wait was more than worth it as she nearly stuck her double-twisting, double somersault.

The result: history and a hearty fist pump from both Biles and coach Cecile Landi, who competed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta for France.

A sixth title

A repeat performance Sunday night will give Biles her sixth U.S. all-around title, something no woman has accomplished since Clara Schroth Lomady in 1952.

“I never think about the records,” Biles told Olympic Channel. “I honestly don’t know that I’m breaking a record until someone brings it up to me.”

But perhaps even more impressive is that it will be Biles’ 20th straight victory in the all-around. The first coming at the 2013 U.S. Championships in Hartford, Connecticut.

She’s dominated the sport since then, setting records at every turn, including being the only woman ever to win four World all-around titles. Her 20 World medals is tied for most by a woman with Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina (though Biles has 14 gold medals to Khorkina’s nine). Three more medals at this season’s World Championships in Stuttgart will match Vitaly Scherbo’s record for most ever.

Simone Biles wearing her 'GOAT' leotard at the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships

Owning her greatest

“Absolutely, without a doubt.” 2008 Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin told Olympic Channel before the event, when asked if Biles was the greatest the sport has ever seen. “She’s lightyears, just so much better than she was even in Rio. For so many, it’s hard to believe that.”

At times, Biles has shied away when asked if she’s the greatest female gymnast of all time. Instead, letting a legion of current and former gymnasts and gymnastics journalists speak to that.

But during open training Wednesday in Kansas City, the 20-time World medalist made a statement. Not so much with her words, but with an image of a goat emblazoned on the back of her training leotard.

“I think it’s important because you’ll go your whole entire career and everybody will tell you, ‘You’re great,’ but the minute you think you’re great, or you say you’re good, they’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re so cocky. Cancel her.’” Biles said of the statement made through her leotard.

Adding, “There should be times we can celebrate whenever we do a good routine or if you’ve been on a winning streak for a year,” said Biles.

Though Biles’ winning streak, in fact, dates back much further: six years.

“I think it will be really hard to ever see someone else like Simone again,” Liukin said.

All Around

The main rivals for Biles' title include Riley McCusker and Morgan Hurd, who represented Team USA at the Pan American Games in Lima but could only manage fourth and eighth place respectively in Kansas City.

Hurd, along with Russia’s Angelina Melnikova and China’s Chen Yile, Hurd star in the Olympic Channel’s original series ‘All Around.