Simone Biles’ next comeback opportunity: break a 90-year-old gymnastics record

Simone Biles’ next comeback opportunity: break a 90-year-old gymnastics record

A footnote to Simone Biles’ 2021 gymnastics season was that she tied the record of seven U.S. all-around titles.

Two years later, she’s back and favored to break that record she shares with Alfred Jochim, who won seven men’s titles from 1925-30 and in 1933 in the AAU era.

The second meet of Biles’ gymnastics return is this week’s Xfinity U.S. Championships in San Jose, California.

Biles, 26, can also become the oldest U.S. women’s all-around champion since USA Gymnastics was created in 1963. Linda Mulvihill, a pioneer in her own right, was 24 years and 3 months old when she won her last title in 1971. (Biles won 2021 Nationals at 24 years, 2 months.)

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Three weeks ago, Biles competed for the first time since the Tokyo Games and posted the world’s best all-around score of this Olympic cycle, according to the Gymternet.

“I was talking to [coach] Laurent [Landi] after, and we were like, I think I’m in better shape than I was in 2021,” she said. “I think that goes mentally and physically.

“I’m also a little bit older. I’m more mature. So at this point, nobody’s forcing me out here. This is truly me.”

Nationals will be different. It’s a two-day meet (Friday and Sunday for the women), testing Biles’ stamina. She worked on getting back into shape at the start of the year, then ramped up training following her May 6 wedding.

Plus the field is deeper, though Konnor McClain, last year’s all-around champion, is sidelined after hand surgery.

Shilese Jones, the 2022 World all-around silver medalist, makes her 2023 debut. Jones is coming off a torn labrum in her shoulder in February and an ankle that has “been a little off since worlds.”

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“I feel pretty confident of what I’m doing right here at this competition,” she said.

Tokyo Olympic medalists Suni Lee, Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles did not compete on all four events three weeks ago.

Lee, training through a kidney ailment, is on this week’s start list for balance beam and vault only. Carey and Chiles are both entered for all four events.

Everybody is vying for one of at least eight spots at next month’s selection camp, after which the five-woman team will be named for October’s world championships. The top two in the all-around at nationals are guaranteed places at the camp.

Biles didn’t want to look too far ahead after winning her comeback meet on Aug. 5.

“We’re still in the working steps,” Biles said when asked about the 2024 Olympics. “My main goal was this, and then [U.S.] championships, and then after we’ll look onto worlds, and then we’ll see, but so far it’s heading in the right direction.”