June 14, 2024
Simone Biles

Simone Biles featured in the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships at the SAP Center on Aug. 27.

In a sport as turbulent as gymnastics, it’s always a safe bet to expect the unexpected, unless you’re Simone Biles. For the ninth time — the most of any female gymnast — Biles took home the U.S. national title, leaving the remaining gymnasts to battle for second place. In the whirlwind men’s competition, 2020 Olympian Brody Malone clinched the championship title, a feat riddled with unforeseen showings on all fronts.

The top two senior all-around athletes in the U.S. Championships are guaranteed a spot at the Olympic trials, which will begin later this month. But with phenom Biles in the mix, it was an unspoken fact that each gymnast was not fighting for that slot, but to earn an invitation to the trial stage.

After the first day of competition at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, Biles was a gaping 3 points ahead of the rest of her competition. In gymnastics, this lead is almost unrecoverable — think up 25 points in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Now, take that margin and double it: Biles closed out the championships with an astounding 5.9 point lead.
Even with a major error on vault as she rolled back onto the mat, her victory was already assured.

While all eyes were on Biles throughout the two-day meet, notable veterans including Skye Blakely, Kayla DiCello and three of Biles’ former Tokyo Olympics teammates — Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles and Jade Carey — were not to be overlooked.

Apart from Biles, performances by the 19-year-old Blakely kept energy high in Dickies Arena. In the final rotation of the night, Blakely pulled off an impressive 15.000 on vault — a score that sealed her second-place finish.

DiCello, an Olympic team alternate in Tokyo and key gymnast for the Florida Gators in the NCAA competition, executed clean and beautiful gymnastics throughout the competition to notch third overall. The 20-year-old is known for her stunning lines and details — a defining factor that earned her the silver medal on floor.

Reigning Olympic all-around champion Lee showed that her class was permanent. She notched fourth, even after her recent battles with kidney health. Her second-place score on beam and strong uneven bars performance — which was well short of her peak — showed the value she could bring to Team USA.

Chiles, who rocked the floor in her Beyoncé-Renaissance-Tour-inspired leotard and routine, validated her nickname: “Consistency Queen.” The Olympian finished the night in fifth.
Though the veterans dominated the competition, 15-year-old 2023 U.S. Junior Champion Hezly Rivera made her case for the Olympic team, falling only .050 behind Chiles.

The women’s competition finished with expected victors, but the men’s competition held the greatest surprises: one from a recovering gymnast, the other from the presumptive favorite.

Despite his Olympic pedigree, expectations were tempered for Brody Malone. The former Olympian suffered a knee injury last year at a meet in Germany that required three surgeries, taking him out of the gymnastics game while he recovered. Some might’ve expected rust, but Malone’s performance suppressed any doubts.

He was only capable of competing a complete floor routine two weeks prior to the competition. But he came out on top both nights to take home the U.S. Champion title from under the feet of Hong and 2020 Olympian Yul Moldauer.

Asher Hong took home the 2023 U.S. Champion title as the youngest man to do so in 34 years — a feat that left many expecting a repeat. And he met expectations throughout night one — that was, until two major errors on the pommel horse brought him from the podium to tenth.

The gap between Hong and the other gymnasts widened as the second night progressed, as he suffered minor deductions on almost every event. A big step out of bounds on the floor brought him squarely back to where he started the night: tenth place.

As Biles and Malone prepare for trials, which will begin on June 27, the remaining athletes know that there is room to grow. As they seek their bid to Paris, gymnasts will want to defeat the unexpected, striving instead for consistency.

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