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Simone Biles qualifies for a third Olympics

Reigning world champion Simone Biles will become the fourth American woman gymnast to compete in three Olympic Games after placing first in the all-around competition at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials Sunday in Minneapolis.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist finished with an overall score of 117.225. Suni Lee came in second with a score of 111.675 and Jordan Chiles in third with 111.425.

The 27-year-old Biles, who became the most decorated gymnast ever at last year’s world championships, clinched an automatic spot on the team after placing first. Lee, Chiles, Jade Carey and 16-year-old Hezly Rivera join Biles on the US women’s gymnastics team in Paris next month.

Joscelyn Roberson and Leanne Wong were named the traveling replacement athletes.

Biles started her night on the vault, posting a score of 15.500. She performed one of her signature moves – the Yurchenko double pike.

Her second rotation of the night – the uneven bars – showed Biles’ consistency, as she finished with a score of 14.200.

Like on night one of the competition, Biles was shaky on the beam – her third rotation. Biles scored a 13.900 after being slightly off on an aerial and falling off the beam.

On her final rotation of the night, Biles dazzled on the floor routine, which led to a standing ovation from the spectators at Target Center including from her husband Jonathan Owens, an NFL player for the Chicago Bears. She scored a 14.725 to solidify her win in the competition.

At the Tokyo Games in 2021, Biles experienced a phenomenon known as “the twisties” – a mental block causing gymnasts to lose track of their body positions – and subsequently withdrew from several events.

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She made her competitive return to gymnastics last year following an extended break from the sport to prioritize her mental health.

Making mental health a priority

Biles said “being in a good mental spot” is what helped lead her back to another Olympics.

“Seeing my therapist every Thursday is kind of religious for me,” Biles told the NBC broadcast. “So, that’s why I am here today.”

When asked about becoming the oldest American woman gymnast since the 1950s to head to the Olympics, Biles laughed and said she knew she “wasn’t done” after Tokyo.

“Just getting back in the gym and working hard and trusting the process… I knew I’d be back,” Biles added.

Biles said she “was in the exact same spot” when asked about being a mentor and leader to the younger gymnasts.

“I know exactly how they are feeling,” Biles said. “If I can be a mentor and a guide, that’s what I am going to do to kind of lighten the load.”

After Biles’ floor routine during night one of the competition featured a song by Taylor Swift, who commented in a post on X, “Watched this so many times and still unready. She’s ready for it tho.”

Biles, when asked about the post, said her team and Swift’s team talk.

“I’ve met her a couple of times,” Biles added. “So, it’s been really sweet.”

The 27-year-old has been in superb form this year, winning her record-extending ninth title at the US Championships earlier this month.

She entered the trials as the strong favorite to win the all-around competition – securing an automatic spot on the US team for the Paris Olympics – and topped the standings ahead of Jordan Chiles and Suni Lee after the first day of the women’s event on Friday.

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In Paris, Biles’ first opportunity to add to her haul of seven Olympic medals will be the women’s team final on July 30, two days before the all-around final.

The men’s competition concluded on Saturday, with Asher Hong, Stephen Nedoroscik, Frederick Richard, Brody Malone, and Paul Juda selected for the team. Khoi Young and Shane Wiskus were named as traveling replacements.

The Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 26 and run through August 11.

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