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Commentary: Simone Biles is right on time to shine at Tokyo Olympics

UPDATED: Mon., June 7, 2021

Simone Biles celebrates after competing Sunday in the vault at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Tony Gutierrez)
Simone Biles celebrates after competing Sunday in the vault at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. (Tony Gutierrez)
By Helene Elliott Los Angeles Times

FORT WORTH, Texas – Simone Biles’ fearlessness and unmatched skills created little doubt that she would win the women’s all-around title at the U.S. gymnastics championships. But Biles, who’s trying to repeat as the Olympic all-around champion in Tokyo and lead the U.S. to another team gold medal, left nothing to chance in Sunday’s national finale, bringing the power and sizzle that make her the best gymnast who has graced a mat.

Biles put on a show in the finale for an adoring crowd at Dickies Arena, topping her first-day score while wrapping up her seventh national all-around title and setting herself up nicely for the Olympic trials June 24-27 in St. Louis.

She controlled the overexuberance that had carried her out of bounds three times during her floor exercise routine on Friday, stepping out once but otherwise preserving her trademark strength and amplitude. This woman – and her spirit – can soar.

“It’s so crazy because in training I never go out of bounds and I never have this much power, but adrenaline is where it comes, so we just have to focus on working with that,” she said. “It’s not a bad thing, but it could be if I keep going out of bounds.”

The only misfortune she experienced was minor: she snapped a fingernail on her first vault. “I’m very upset about it because they’re pretty cute this time,” she said, holding her fingers toward the camera during her post-event webinar.

She couldn’t be too upset. Discomfort that resulted from jamming her ankles on Wednesday led her to skip the daring Yurchenko double pike vault she pulled off last month – she’s the only woman in the world to land it – but the vaults she did instead were effortless and stunning. She racked up 60.10 points on Sunday and 119.65 overall, ahead of dynamic Sunisa Lee (114.95), who had the meet’s top uneven bars score.

“I feel like I’m on the correct road for the trials,” Biles said, adding that she plans to do the Yurchenko double pike vault at least once in the two-day trials.

Biles, 24, has been at this long enough to win a mind-boggling 25 medals at the world championships to go with the four Olympic gold medals and one bronze (balance beam) that she won in Rio in 2016. She’s moving powerfully and purposely toward the next challenge.

“I feel like every single championship stands out for a reason,” she said, “but this one stands out specifically because it’s the road to Tokyo.”

A road paved with triumphs and gold.

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