April 13, 2024
Biles, 26, is also the the oldest woman ever to capture the title.

SAN JOSE — When it was all over and Simone Biles had finished her magical performance on the floor at the SAP Center, San Jose let her hear it.

The entire place went into a frenzy, fans leaping to their feet, little girls crying and adults shaking their heads in disbelief. Biles hugged her coaches, fist-bumped her teammates, waved to the crowd and finally bent over to catch her breath.

It was all over.

With her high-flying floor routine in which she at one point took a symbolic bow before continuing on, Biles cruised to a dominant victory at the U.S. Gymnastics Championship in San Jose on Sunday night.

It was her record-setting eighth all-around national championship. She won her first in 2013. Now, at 26, she’s the oldest woman ever to capture the title.

It seemed like she’d never come back to the ground during her floor routine, when she leaped into the air with her arms spread out, her legs straight together and her body flipping backwards over and over, straightening out just in time for her to land on the corner of the mat.

Her 15.400 score on the floor was the final brush stroke on her masterpiece of a weekend. Over two days she totaled a 118.450, almost four points higher than Shilese Jones, the 21-year-old from Seattle who might’ve had the performance of her life but will go home with only silver to show for it.

Even against a field considered the best ever by USA Gymnastics, with 58 combined world and Olympic medals to their names, Biles didn’t fit in.

She was something else altogether, reinforcing her title as the greatest of all time as she finished first on the floor, first on the vault, first on the beam and third on the uneven bars.

She’s now won all-around national titles in 2013, ‘14, ‘15, ‘16, ‘18, ‘19, ‘21 and ‘23.

Simone Biles performs on the balance beam during the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

This one was different.

A few months ago, it was unclear whether or not Biles would ever compete again. Following the 2018 sexual abuse scandal that rocked the sport and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics that saw Biles withdraw mid-competition for mental health reasons, the seven-time Olympic medalist said goodbye to gymnastics.

But she made a surprise return earlier this month, when she cruised to a commanding victory at the U.S. Classic in the suburbs of Chicago while teammates and onlookers wondered if she was even stronger and better than before.

This week in San Jose, she might’ve proved it.

Friday night’s performance seemed like a statement as Biles looked powerful in every exercise. On the vault, she executed the Yurchenko double pike, a move so complicated that she remains the only woman to ever try it in a competition.

She entered Sunday with a 2.55-point lead.

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Enjoying the comfort of being so far ahead, Biles made the decision not to attempt the Yurchenko double pike again and instead executed the Cheng, considered the second-most difficult move off the vault. She earned a 14.850, a drop from her 15.700 on Friday but still the highest score of anyone in the field.

Her uneven bar performance was hindered only by a slightly-mistimed dismount. She improved her score on the beam from 14.450 on Friday to 14.850 on Sunday. And her final floor routine on Sunday was something that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

As she stepped off the mat to make way for Jordan Chiles, Chiles bowed down in respect, then started to clap.

The only question now is whether or not Biles will want to continue her return all the way to the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Those rosters won’t be set until after trials next year, but Biles hasn’t yet said if she intends to compete, only that she’s taking it one step at a time. With her victory on Sunday she ensured she’ll be part of the national team going forward.

Simone Biles smiles while warming up before the start of the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

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