Simone Biles shines at US Olympic trials; DiCello, Jones injured

Simone Biles shines at US Olympic trials; DiCello, Jones injured


MINNEAPOLIS — Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Simone Biles’ decade-plus run redefining what’s possible in gymnastics is how she’s managed to stay healthy while doing it.

He's well aware of the danger lurking around every turn, every bend, every landing. Surviving it all and moving on is perhaps his greatest skill, one that was put to the test Friday night at the U.S. Olympic trials.

Before Biles could jump on the uneven bars in her first event, Kayla DiCello’s hopes of joining her in Paris were dashed when she broke her right Achilles bone just feet from the vault.

Moments later, Shelyse Jones came out of the arena with a leg injury that put the six-time world championship medallist's position in jeopardy.

That’s a lot to take in, even for a 27-year-old who has made the impossible look impossibly easy for so long.

As Biles said, the whole conference was “very stressful, very overwhelming.”

still.

He said, “If we can do this, we can do anything.”

So, while there were some uncharacteristically loose moments early, Biles eventually displayed her prodigious talent and scored a total of 58.900, ensuring her an automatic spot on the five-woman team to be announced Sunday night.

Still, the image of his two colleagues walking out in tears was hard to erase, all accompanied by a fear that never goes away, no matter how long you do this for a living.

“There is concern,” said Laurent Landi, Biles' longtime co-coach.[Like]'Okay, am I the next one to get hurt? What's going to happen to me?'”

Landy's advice was simple and direct, the most effective way to communicate with the biggest star in the American Olympic movement.

“You can't control this,” Landy told her. “So control what's in control.”

Biles did that. Even on a night when she wasn't in her best form, she left no doubt that she was in control of her gymnastics and, perhaps most importantly, in control of her emotions.

While Biles was cursed in front of all the cameras for an unusually loose and unstable balance beam routine, there was also a standing ovation for her Yurchenko double pike vault, which is named after her in the sport’s Code of Points and is the most difficult vault anyone, male or female, can perform in the world.

And the same goes for Biles, who will travel to Paris looking to retain the Olympic gold medal she won as a teenager in 2016.

A lot has happened since then: marriage, multiple world titles and a memorable trip to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she excused herself from several finals to focus on her mental health.

She took a two-year break from competing after returning from Japan, but over the past 12 months she has looked as good as ever. After her record ninth national title earlier this month she joked that she was “aging like wine.”

It appears Biles isn't alone.

Jordan Chiles, 23, is on track to make the Olympics just like she was three years ago. She placed in the top six in all four events on Friday, a major accomplishment for her considering the injuries she suffered earlier this year that seemed to have derailed her chances of making it to Paris.

Now, not so much. Still, when Chiles was asked if her past experience in this place helped her deal with the complicated emotions of this meeting, which could change the lives of the five women who hear their names at the end of it, she laughed.

“No,” Chiles said. “I was actually saying that this morning. I was like, ‘No matter what meet I’ve done in my life, this is the most stressful meet of my entire career.’ Because it’s the one night when you either find out you can do it or you can’t.”

The Chileans are on the verge of a comeback on their sport's biggest stage. Reigning Olympic champion Sunisa Lee is also on the verge of a comeback.

The 21-year-old Lee, who has spent much of the past two years battling kidney health problems, used two superb sets on uneven bars and balance beam to take third in front of her hometown crowd.

Behind Lee was 24-year-old Jade Carey, the reigning Olympic champion on floor exercise. Carey, who has excelled over the past three years straddling the line between collegiate and elite gymnastics, finished second to Biles on vault and fourth on floor.

The biggest question on Sunday will be who will finish fifth. Jocelyn Roberson, 18, of the 13-woman squad, played a strong set on floor to finish fifth.

Still, USA Gymnastics officials stressed they don’t agree with the idea of ​​having the top five in rank order at the end of the trials, which was the case in 2021 under previous leadership.

Kalia Lincoln had the second-best score on floor. Hazely Rivera seems to be getting better with each passing meet, and 2020 Olympic alternate and four-time World Championship medalist Leanne Wong has plenty of international experience.

Jones, the top American gymnast known as Biles when healthy, has looked like a lock for most of the past two years. That was likely over before the competition officially began.

The 21-year-old arrived at Target Center with a slight labrum injury in her right shoulder. Then she fell awkwardly while warming up on vault, twisting her left knee.

She dropped out for a while, but returned and joined the rest of the athletes. She skipped vault in the first rotation, but came back with grit through uneven bars, which was her best event.

Jones performed an impressive 14.625, even with a slightly weaker routine, but she cautiously stepped off the podium. She spoke to medical staff for several minutes and then left for good.

Whether Jones decides to give it a try on Sunday is unclear. What is clear — what has always been clear since Biles' senior debut in 2013 — is that she is, and everyone else is.


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