Simone Biles Sweeps U.S. Championships for Fifth Title

Simone Biles in her teal leotard, supporting the victims of Larry Nassar, with her gold medal and commemorative flowers.


Simone Biles in her teal leotard, supporting the victims of Larry Nassar, with her gold medal and commemorative flowers.

Jacob Myers

In the afternoon of Aug. 17, Simone Biles, four-time Rio Olympic gold medal winner and four-time U.S. Championships winner walked away from TD Garden in Boston with a commanding 3.1 point lead. Going out of the same arena only two days later, she had claimed her fifth title, sweeping the main four events. Biles won by an overall 6.55 points over Morgan Hurd, who won the World overall championships in 2017. Biles’ margin of victory is the largest since perfect-10 scores were discarded in 2006. To put the margin into different words, the 6.55 points between Biles and Hurd was a bigger gap than the difference between Hurd (who got second) and the gymnast who finished in 11th place.

Before the championship, Biles had been on a 14-month leave since the Rio Olympics to get used to new coaches Cecile and Laurent Landi. Though, she had participated three weeks in advance at the U.S. Classic, winning the event despite an uneven bars fall to end her round. Yet, she rebounded very well at the Championships, claiming her first ever gold medal in the uneven bars in any event of her professional career, including the Olympics.

She performed near perfect in the rest of her events, only with a single blunder coming on the uneven bars and the balance beam, as well as three floor exercises that went out of bounds.

Biles had no intent to perform as amazing as she did, saying that she only went into the event to work on pre-meet nerves, consistency and confidence. Even after the clean sweep, Biles wasn’t entirely impressed with herself. In an interview with Andrea Joyce of NBC, Biles said, “I’d give it [my performance] a B plus.”

Laurent Landi noted that Biles’ comeback did not require her to become better at any specific event, but she just needed to use her head more. Landi stated, “To handle the pressure, to handle the media, to handle everybody, all the expectation, it’s mentally draining.” Yet, Biles showed no signs, as provided in her post-session interview, “I think I’m finally starting to get it and understand it. I’ve understood gymnastics for a while now, but I think it’s really sinking in.”

Biles is 21 years old as of right now, and is not going to get any younger. Yet, she is showing no signs of slowing down. She was the first non-teen to win the U.S. Championships since 1971. When asked about what her opponents would have thought about her performance, she jokingly stated, “Maybe that I should probably quit.” As much as all of her competitors would hope for that, she is going to continue to compete in gymnastics until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

When aiming towards the future, Biles doesn’t need to win, according to her trainer Laurent Landi. He stated, “I think you just need to do today … and see what we get at the end… We don’t aim to win. I think it’s much more important to think about what she needs to accomplish for herself. If at the end she wins, then she wins.”

The next major women’s gymnastics event is a while from now, on March 1st. The Nastia Liukin Cup in Greensboro, North Carolina is sponsored by Team USA gymnastics, and is used to evaluate teams for the upcoming 2020 Olympics. Biles has not confirmed her involvement.