The Associated PressKANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The choice was entirely hers. Only there really wasn’t one for Simone Biles to make.
Sure, she could have taken her triple-twisting double-flip (dubbed “the triple-double”) out of her floor exercise routine during the final day of the U.S. women’s gymnastics championships on Sunday. She surely didn’t need it to assure herself of another national title.
Still, even as her coach Laurent Landi left the option up to her after the Olympic champion’s bid to become the first woman to complete the triple-double in competition came up a bit short on Friday, he knew the answer.
Spend enough time in the gym around the 22-year-old who is redefining what’s possible in her sport one exhilarating routine at a time, and it quickly becomes evident that sidestepping a challenge isn’t really her thing.
So she threw it at the end of her first tumbling pass, fueled by adrenaline, ambition and otherworldly skill. When the dizzying combination ended with her feet firmly on the floor — if barely in bounds — the jolt through the packed arena was palpable. The smile on her face unmistakable. And the competition — just like it has been for six years and counting whenever Biles is involved — was over.
The triple-double served as the exclamation point on her sixth national championship. Her two-day total of 118.500 was nearly five points clear of 16-year-old Sunisa Lee in second and more almost seven points ahead of third-place finisher Grace McCallum.
Yet Biles doesn’t pay too much attention to the margin or her scores for that matter. She’s been a fixture atop the podium for six years and counting. Attempting to find the boundaries of her immense talent is what drives her.
It’s why she got so angry after putting both hands down as she tried to land the triple-double on Friday. It’s why she never thought about ditching it on Sunday. And it’s why she sneaked a peek at her phone while rotating from floor to balance beam, typically a no-no during a meet. Well, at least for anyone not named Simone Biles.
“I wanted to see how it looked,” she said.
Here’s a word: historic.
Said USA Gymnastics performance chief Tom Forster: “It’s like she hit a hole in one and we were all there.”