Four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles has made a triumphant return to gymnastics after a two-year hiatus, winning the US Classic in her first competition since the Tokyo Olympics.
Biles electrified a sellout crowd in suburban Chicago on Saturday with a stunning performance, receiving an all-around judges’ total score of 59.100 points.
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“It just makes my heart warm because it’s nice to come out here and have all that support, especially in a time like this where I was really nervous to compete again,” Biles told reporters after the competition.
“I got back out here and I did what I was training so I’m very happy with the result.”
The 19-time world champion began on the uneven bars, where her strong performance received a score of 14.000 points, third-best overall.
The 26-year-old American gymnast followed by going first on the balance beam and delivering a spectacular 14.800, the meet’s top score.
Biles went last in rotation three on floor exercise and drew cheers during and after every tumbling run, her flips and landings on incredible passes bringing a roar at the finish of an effort that was rewarded with a meet-best 14.900 points.
She finished on vault and unleashed another epic performance, soaring high and landing well – showing no signs of rust from the long layoff in earning a meet-best 15.400 score.
Leanne Wong, 19, finished second, five points off the pace on 54.100, with 17-year-old Joscelyn Roberson third on 54.050.
While Biles has not announced if she will be making a bid to compete at next year’s Paris Olympics, her superb comeback spectacle at the Classic could be a first step in that direction.
The meet was the last chance to qualify for the US nationals from August 24 to 27 in San Jose, California.
Biles used the US Classic as her comeback meet in 2018 after a lengthy break following her starring role at the 2016 Rio Olympics, which included gold in all-around, vault, floor and team.
Biles struggled at the Tokyo Games in 2021 with the “twisties” – a disorienting feeling while in midair that leaves gymnasts at greater injury risk when landing – as well as mental health issues.
She was affected early in the Olympic team competition, pulled out of the all-around plus the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise disciplines before taking bronze on the balance beam.
In her comeback on Saturday, Biles was dressed in black and white and wore competitor number 231.
There was a sense of anticipation as her long-awaited comeback became real when she leaped onto the uneven bars with release moves and swings that led to an eruption of applause and cheers when she landed.
Source: News Agencies