Simon Beals and her ever-expanding set of signature skills certainly look ready for the Tokyo Olympics.
The reigning world and Olympic champion returned to the race for the first time in more than 18 months, sailing to win the US Classic in Indianapolis on Saturday night.
The 24-year-old continued to strive to expand the boundaries of what is possible from a gymnast in the process.
Biles’ score of 58,400 – easily the best of the night in a crowded field for seniors trying to join Biles on the US Olympic team this summer – was almost out of the question.
Yurchenko’s double pike vault has historically been made only by men. No longer. Beals threw himself on the track, rounding off the trampoline, followed by a rear respirator on the arch, ending with two back flips with outstretched legs with arms and hands seemingly magnetized to the lower legs. Beals had so much momentum when he landed that he bounced back a step or two.
No matter. The score of 16,100 is higher than any of its arches with gold medals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. And that was with the judges ordering her for the extra steps.
The rest of the night was stable, if not spectacular. She sailed from the uneven grids of her last event on an element she had struggled with in practice. The wrong move was just a quick game in the night when she showed what sets her apart from any other gymnast in the long history of the sport.
Wearing a white crystal goat leotard – a nod to her status as the Greatest of All Time – on her back, Beals posted the highest scores for the night on a balancing beam, floor exercises and arch.
It was so rusty after the COVID-19 pandemic replaced the Olympics a year ago.
The mistake on the bars will give Biles something to focus on before the national championship in Fort Worth, Texas, next month.
Behind it, however, the picture of who will join it in Japan in July remains unclear.
Jordan Chiles, a friend and teammate of Biles, is approaching a favorite for one of the other available seats. The 20-year-old proved that her victory in the winter cup in February was not accidental. Chiles finished second in the all-around (57,100) to Biles and ranked in the top four in each of the four events.
Kayla DiCello came third, backed by a grid victory.
Chelsea Memel clenched their fists in joy after landing their vault in their first racing match in more than nine years. The result of the world all-around in 2005 and the 2008 Olympic Olympic medal of 13,750 did not matter. Nor the routine program with nerve rays, which ended with 11,800. Saturday was for a simple arrival at the very moment.
“I was extremely pleased that everything went well today,” Memel said. “Obviously I have to make it better, but I’m still happy with everything I’ve done and happy that I was on the floor, that I put myself there, even if I get to this point, to try it again, for to know, get dressed and register for a race. “
Memel is petitioning for participation in the national championships next month, which the coordinator of the women’s national team, Tom Forster, said will be accepted.
Two-time Olympic medalist Lori Hernandez fell from the crossbar – the event where she won silver in Rio de Janeiro – and scored just 13,250 in the vault. Hernandez competed on a gentle ankle after suffering a training injury last month that limited her training. Like Memmel, Hernandez is petitioning citizens.
This has not been a problem for Biles since winning her first of six national titles in 2013. She is poised to collect seventh in two weeks, the next step in what is likely to be a gold medal farewell (so far at least). .