Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

Simone Biles readies herself to script Olympic history in Tokyo

- Agencies

Simone Biles toned it down. A little anyway. And soared even higher. The 24-year-old gymnastics superstar claimed her record seventh US title Sunday night, delivering another stunning—and stunningly easy—performanc­e that served little doubt the pressure surroundin­g her bid to become the first woman to win back-toback Olympic championsh­ips in more than 50 years is only pushing her to even greater heights.

Shaking off a somewhat sloppy start Friday, at least by her impeccable standards, Biles put on a four-rotation showcase that highlighte­d why a GOAT emblem—a nod to her status as the Greatest Of All Time—has become a fixture on her competitio­n leotard.

Biles’ all-around score on Sunday of 60.100 was her highest since 2018 and served notice she is only getting better with the Tokyo Games less than seven weeks away.

It helped that she managed to stay inbounds (mostly) during her floor routine after stepping out three times on Friday. Blame it on the rush she gets when the lights are on and a crowd is in the palm of her hands. She was far more precise in finals save for one tumbling pass where one of her feet stepped over the white border. “It’s so crazy because in training I never go out of bounds and I never have this much power,” Biles said. “But with the adrenaline, that’s where it comes.”

While Biles’ victory was never in doubt—it rarely has been during her nearly eight-year reign atop the sport—she remains in no mood to coast.

And to think she didn’t even bother with her latest innovation, a Yurchenko double-pike vault she drilled twice at the US Classic last month that caught the attention of everyone from Lebron James to Michelle Obama.

So what if it had only historical­ly been done by men? So what if the Internatio­nal Gymnastics

Federation seemed intent on not giving the vault a difficulty value commensura­te with its complexity? The vault exists. She can do it.

So, why not? She didn’t stick around for another year just to fool around. She stuck around to keep making history.

Hands seemingly magnetised to her hamstrings as she soared off the vaulting table, Biles drilled the Yurchenko double pike during her victory at the US Classic. She had generated so much momentum that she took a couple of big hops upon landing before letting out a semi-relieved smile.

The Yurchenko double-pike will return at trials and likely in Tokyo, where if she completes it during competitio­n yet another element in the sport’s Code of Points will be named for her. Just add it to the list of what they call “#Simonethin­gs.”

Even she thinks the 6.6 start value for the Yurchenko doublepike—just a tick above significan­tly less difficult vaults—is as high as it should be. “That’s on the (Internatio­nal Federation of Gymnastics) that’s not on me,” Biles said last month. “They have an open-end code of points and now they’re mad people are too far ahead and excelling.” And no one in the sport has ever excelled as much as Biles.

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