simon bilesthe most decorated gymnast in United States history, returned this Saturday for the first time since the Tokyo Games and won the US Classic in Chicago with a very solid and convincing performance in the exercises of uneven bars, balance, floor and vault.
The winner of seven Olympic medals, four of them gold, reappeared after 732 days absentin which he focused on his mental well-being after withdrawing from the team final of the last Olympics for a twisties episode‘, a disconnection between mind and body.
At the Tokyo Games, Biles withdrew from the singles, floor, vault and asymmetric exercises after suffering that disconnection in the vault exercise. He would return at those same Olympics to perform the bar exercise, which gave him the bronze medal.
This Saturday at the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates, on the outskirts of Chicago, Biles delighted viewers with an outstanding performance which gave him the victory with 59,100 points and a 5,000 advantage over Leanne Wong, second.
Seven Olympic medals, four of them gold, and 25 world medals, 19 of them gold, only partially summarize the curriculum and legacy of one of the greatest athletes in history.
His return to the NOW Arena, completely sold out to support him, enlarges his legend. There was no certainty that Biles could reappear after his problems, nor that it returned to this level. Even more so at 26, an age at which the vast majority of gymnasts have already experienced the prime of their careers.
In fact, Biles participated in an event with very young colleagues, such as Californian Tiana Sumanasekera, barely 15 years old. If they are highly talented gymnasts and great promises of the American future, Biles showed that she still represents the present.
Leader from start to finish
They had just passed 7:00 p.m. local time when Biles kicked off his US Classic with the uneven bars. It began with a serious face, of maximum concentration, cheered by the spectators who filled the stands of the NOW Arena.
He put in a solid run and became the first leader with 14,000 points. He would not leave that first place until the end and, if possible, he increased the level more and more.
He had no doubts in the balance test, with elegant movements and a perfect landing (14,800), and he delighted the fans on the ground (14,900).
She had an advantage of 2,100 points over the second classified after two exercises and increased it to 3,750 after the third, before facing the jump test.
The number of cameras placed in the drop zone in the NOW Arena made us understand the level of expectation generated by the return to this exercise of Biles.
And the Olympic champion did not tremble. She performed the best of her four exercises, with an explosive yet controlled jump that gave her 15,400 points and endorsed her resounding victory.
It was at that moment when Biles released all his joy. Relieved after completing the four exercises, and already certain of victory, she smiled and raised her left arm twice, applauded by the public.
She totaled 59,100 points, an outstanding result, and there was a gap between her and second-place finisher Leanne Wong.
Two years away from the spotlight
In the past two years, Biles he had taken some time to focus on his health and also became one of the most respected voices in defense of the rights of athletes.
The American gymnast also reported on her social networks her commitment to Jonthan Owens, a player for the Houston Texans in the American football NFL, whom she married on April 24.
His participation in the 2024 Paris Games is still up in the air, but the sensations and the level shown in Chicago give optimism to the American public.
Before, the gymnast could join the World Championships in Antwerp, scheduled from September 30 to October 8 of this year.
The US Classic brought together the elite of American gymnastics and this Saturday’s participants included Olympic gold medal winners Sunisa Lee and Jade Carey, both champions in Tokyo. In total, there were eleven Olympic and world champions in the NOW Arena.
It’s about a top-level stage for American gymnasticsthrough which glories such as Amanda Borden, Dominique Dawes, Gabby Douglas or Laurie Hernandez passed, in addition to Biles herself, among others.
“Now I believe a little more in myself”
“It felt really good, especially after what happened in the last few years. Everyone supporting me, with banners, it just melted my heart that they still believed in me. I came back and did what I wanted, I am very happy with the result“, said Biles after his victory, in statements to ‘NBC’.
“This time I’m doing it for me, I have worked a lot on myself, now I believe in myself a little more“, he added.
Biles, 26, has not yet confirmed whether he is willing to participate in the 2024 Paris Games, but considered that things “are on the right track.”
“We’re working. My first goal was this (the US Classic), then the Championships (nationals in San Jose, California at the end of August). And then we’ll see. So far we’re on the right track, but I have to keep focusing on me, going to therapy and I have to put myself first,” he said.