The work against Simone Biles against her is not yet complete. Gymnastics superstar versus the world?
Next stop, Tokyo. And one more shot into history. And gold. Possibly a lot.
The reigning world champion and Olympic champion will lead the US women’s gymnastics team in Japan next month, conquering one of the automatic berths and taking another easy win in the Olympic Trials Sunday night.
Well, maybe not everything is so simple.
A 24-year-old girl once found herself in tears during an uncharacteristically shaky performance _ by her impeccable standards _. Her bars were uneven. She fell off the beam. Out of bounds when doing floor exercises. While her two-day result of 118.098 was more than two points higher than Sunisa Lee’s Olympic team, Lee actually did a better all-around than Biles during the final.
“I kind of got into my head today and started doubting myself,” Biles said. “And it was evident in the gymnastics. But just go home, work harder. This is just the beginning of the journey. “
Or maybe the beginning of the end. Biles doesn’t know what to expect after the Tokyo Games. She was too focused on becoming the first woman in more than half a century to become an Olympic champion again. The seduction of history and respect for her immense talent is why she returned after a short hiatus after a dominant five-medal performance in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. COVID-19 pandemic forced officials to postpone the opening ceremony in Tokyo for a year.
Biles is heading to Japan as the face of his sport, the American delegation, and perhaps even the entire Olympic movement. Since her coronation in Rio in 2016, she has become more than just a gymnastics star. Her continued dominance – the last runner-up in competition – over nine years ago – combined with her charisma and active exercise pushed her towards the company of Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, athletes whose global dominance has made them Olympic icons.
Sports stop watching when she does her job. The pressure that she is experiencing, both internal and external, is real. And it boiled as she greeted the judges somewhat exhausted after her performance in the hall, grateful for the accompanying standing ovation, but also just glad that the big show was finally here.
“Yes, I am very glad that the Olympic trials are over,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to do when we get there.”
Lee, Jordan Chile and Grace McCallum will join Biles on the four-woman Olympic team. MayKayla Skinner, Deputy in 2016, was honored with a plus-1 position. Jade Carey has earned a nominal spot in the World Championship, which means she will compete individually.
Kayla DiCello, Kara Iker, Lynn Wong and Emma Malabuyo will serve as deputies.
The selection committee decided to select the top four finishers in the trials, although National Team Coordinator Tom Forster acknowledged that the Skinner team instead of McCallum could potentially score slightly higher due to Skinner’s world-class jumps.
However, fractions of a pip are unlikely to differentiate between gold and silver. If the Americans get any closer to the top of their game, they should win their third consecutive Olympic crown by a significant margin. This was enough for the committee to take first place in the ranking.
“We are so lucky that our athletes are so strong that I don’t think they will drop to tenths of a point in Tokyo,” Forster said. “It doesn’t seem to be so … so as a committee, we just didn’t feel like it was worth changing the integrity of the process by just a couple of tenths.”
Lee, who will be the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics, is growing by leaps and bounds. With an ankle injury that slowed her pace in the spring and caused her to limp occasionally during the national championships earlier this month, Lee is arguably the best gymnast on the planet with no name Biles.
The 18-year-old from Minnesota is a miracle on the uneven bars, one of the few gymnasts on the planet who can outshine Biles in competition. Its range of intricate joints, crafted with fluidity and grace for a lightweight look, are some of the most challenging in the sport.
“I just told myself to take a deep breath and do what I usually do, because this is the time when I just had to do my gymnastics,” Lee said.
Chile admits that she most likely would not have gone to Tokyo if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. She moved to Houston to train with Biles two years ago, but was still trying to find herself an athlete. She has grown into one of the most energetic and reliable gymnasts in the country, boasting the most extensive talent pool in the world. In 2021, Chile completed all 24 of its competitive programs and covered her face with her hands after floor exercise to drink in realizing a dream she worried might never come true.
“It was a very emotional moment for me because I went through so much because of everything that happened,” Chiles said. “I’m just really excited.”
For a good reason. The Americans have dominated every major international competition since winning gold in London in 2012. The streak hasn’t stopped even after the retirement of former national team coordinator Martha Karoli and the aftermath of the sexual assault scandal surrounding former national team doctor Larry Nassar.
Nassar’s cloud still persists as litigation between survivors and the organization remains mediated.
However, when Biles – who is himself a surviving nassar – lies on the floor, the narrative changes. And she knows it. Her presence is one of the guiding stars of the entire movement. She is ready to give the last show.
“I think I’ll try to live a little in the moment because 2016 was so blurry,” she said. “As soon as we got there, everything happened so quickly. … This time we need to relax a little. And enjoy training and enjoy the process. “
It’s almost done.