Simone Biles is on the road to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, which starts with conquering the Core Hydration U.S. Classic.
In her first competitive gymnastics meet in two years, the 26-year-old pro athlete earned the gold medal after finishing in first place in vault, floor and balance beam events. Biles’ uneven bars routine finished in third place.
During the Illinois-held classic, Biles even debuted the rarely competed Yurchenko double pike on vault. The move earned her the highest score of the day with 15.4.
“🥇 🥇 🥇 🥇 🥇 gold medals for WCC,” Biles gushed via her Instagram Story early on Sunday, August 6, referring to her and her World Champions Centre teammates’ placements.
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Saturday’s competition marked Biles’ first meet since she withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 after suffering the “twisties.” (The “twisties” occur when an athlete loses control of their body while spinning through the air doing one of their tricks.)
“It felt really good [getting back out there], especially after everything that happened over the past year,” Biles told NBC Sports after finishing her rotations on Saturday. “So, everyone that was cheering, made posters in the crowd and all of that, it made my heart melt that they still believe in me. I got back out here and did what I was training, so I’m very happy with the result.”
She continued: “After everything that transpired in Tokyo, I took a lot [of time and] I worked on myself. I still do therapy weekly and it’s just been so exciting to come out here and have the confidence I had before that after everything that happened. … I feel like I lost a part of [having widespread support] sometimes and to come back here and do what I did tonight and have that support from the fans and everybody watching, I just couldn’t thank them enough.”
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Biles, who noted she “always” wanted to return to competition after Tokyo, explained to the sports reporter that she’s “doing it for me” this time. “I worked a lot on myself and I believe in myself a little bit more, it’s just coming back out here and starting those first steps again,” she noted.
During the televised classic, the crowd loudly cheered every time Biles showed off her skills. The Olympian even got in on the fun, busting out silly dance moves after sticking her landings.
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“That’s just a joke! I always do it in the gym and the girls were like, ‘If you land your vault, please do it,’” Biles explained to NBC Sports of the origins of her post-competition dance moves. “I almost forgot until Jordan [Chiles, my teammate] reminded me, but it’s just something to keep the girls fun and we can all laugh at and just enjoy each other.”
While Biles is celebrating her victory, she’s only “still in the working steps” toward the upcoming Olympic Games. “So far [I’m] heading in the right direction,” she told NBC, noting her primary focus has been the classic and the U.S. National Championships.
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Now that Biles won gold on Saturday, she qualifies for nationals starting on August 24 — but regardless she’s “still gonna put myself first” and prioritize self-improvement.
Biles also had the support of her husband, Jonathan Owens, from afar. (Owen, 28, plays professional football for the Green Bay Packers and is currently at NFL training camp in Wisconsin.)
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“Y’all know my wife [handled] business too, what a special night ❤️,” Owens, who wed Biles in April, gushed via his Instagram Story on Saturday, sharing footage of her medal ceremony.
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