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June 14, 2024

Simone Biles leads by three points after Day 1 of U.S. Championships

Simone Biles leads by three points after Day 1 of U.S. Championships

Simone Biles is halfway to winning a record ninth U.S. all-around championship ahead of the Paris Olympics.

On the first of two days of competition at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, Biles distanced herself from the rest of the field, retaining a 3.4-point lead over her closest competitor with a 60.450 in the all-around.

The 37-time world and Olympic medalist started her night on the vault, where she performed her eponymous skill — a Yurchenko double pike — and earned a 15.800, the highest score of the night in any event. She maintained her lead on the uneven bars and the balance beam, scoring a 14.650 and 14.800, respectively.

Biles ended on the floor exercise, where she is the reigning world champion. Her routine for the 2024 season features music by Taylor Swift and reintroduces another “Biles” skill, a triple-twisting double flip she debuted in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She scored a 15.200, breaking 60.000 in the all-around for the first time since the Olympic trials in 2021.

“She broke the 60s and that was a goal of hers,” Biles’ coach Cecile Landi said after the meet. “Very happy with her routines, her attitude, everything looked really good.”

Skye Blakely, Kayla DiCello, Suni Lee and Leanne Wong rounded out the top five.

Lee, the reigning Olympic all-around champion, competed in all four events for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics. After battling kidney issues for much of last season, Lee finished fourth in the all-around and made a compelling case for the Paris team.

Starting a competition on the beam is never easy. Lee had a major balance check toward the end of her first routine, but managed to stay on the beam and scored a 14.200. On the uneven bars, her other standout event, she posted a 14.300 with a routine she is capable of upgrading at the Olympic trials.

Six-time world medalist Shilese Jones withdrew from the Championships hours before Friday’s competition due to a shoulder injury. She plans to file a petition with USA Gymnastics to compete at the U.S. Olympic trials in Minneapolis on June 27-30.

Jones had solidified herself as Team USA’s strongest asset behind Biles at the Core Hydration Classic earlier this month, finishing second in the all-around competition and winning the uneven bars.

Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic all-around gold medalist, also withdrew earlier this week after sustaining a season-ending ankle injury, ending her Paris hopes. Douglas had been eyeing her third Olympic team after an eight-year hiatus from the sport.

Sunday’s competition will determine the national champions in the all-around and on each apparatus, as well as the qualifiers to the Olympic trials.

The top two finishers in the all-around competition at the U.S. Championships gain an automatic berth to the Olympic trials, where the gymnasts representing the U.S. at the Paris Olympics this summer will be named. At least 10 additional women, determined by a selection committee on Sunday, will join the automatic qualifiers.

If Biles, 27, is named to the U.S. Olympic team in Paris, she will be the first American woman since Dominique Dawes to make three Olympic teams.

She kicked off her 2024 season with a dominant victory at the Core Hydration Classic.

The Classic was her first competitive outing since the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, in October, when she won a historic sixth individual all-around world title, medaled on three of the four events and led the U.S. women to their seventh straight victory in the team competition.

The Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships air live 7-9 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock. They also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. (Comcast, the parent company of NBC News and NBCUniversal, runs Peacock and NBC Sports.)

Kaetlyn Liddy

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