Simone Biles captures historic eighth title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships

Simone Biles captures historic eighth title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships
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Seven-time Olympic medallist Simone Biles eased her way to a historic eighth national title Sunday (27 August 2023) at the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships in San Jose, California.

The 26-year-old, competing in just her second competition since withdrawing from the women's team final and four subsequent individual finals to priortise her mental health at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as she dealt with a case of the infamous 'twisties', came into the second night of competition with more than a two-and-a-half point advantage over second place.

That allowed her to cruise to her record setting title with ease, opting not to perform her daring — and spectacular — Yurchenko double pike vault after having stung her ankle performing it Friday.

Instead, she used a solid performance across the four apparatus to tally 59.150 for the day and a 118.450 combined total, well clear of 2022 World all-around silver medallist Shilese Jones (114.550). 2021 World all-around silver medallist Leanne Wong scored 111.100 for the bronze medal.

As Biles walked off the floor exercise in the final rotation, the crowd of nearly 12,000 rose to their feet, honoring one of the greatest the sport has ever seen.

"It's really amazing. Everybody in here believes in me, and my teammates believe in me, my coaches, my family, everyone," Biles told U.S. broadcaster NBC afterward. "So, I just need to start believing in myself a little bit more. But it feels amazing. And I love the fans, I love the crowd. It's really special."

Biles' win breaks the record for most U.S. all-around crowns she previously shared with Alfred Jochim, who won his seventh and final title 90 years ago.

A decade of dominance

It's been 10 years since Biles first soared to the top of the gymnastics world, claiming her first U.S. title at the 2013 nationals ahead of 2012 Olympic gold medallist Kyla Ross.

From there, it's been a seemingly endless stretch of titles, medals, eponymous elements and more. Her 33 World and Olympic medals and the automatic nature with which she has so frequently defied gravity make it all blur together.

It certainly has for Biles.

"I don't remember much for my first title. I think sometimes you black out whenever all those things happen. I also think that whenever I won those titles back in the day, it's like we were focusing on the next thing: what's next. It was just like okay, moving forward we're going to Worlds camp, trying to make a World team and all that stuff," said Biles. "So, we never really got to settle in and celebrate that.

"I think now, moving forward even after [the U.S.] Classic and now after Championships, we really try to celebrate our success individually and as a team, just so that in a couple of years, you can remember those," she concluded.

So many moments in Biles career have become the stuff of legend: her third-straight World all-around crown in 2015, a first; a dominant four gold medal haul at the 2016 Olympic Games; her six medal wins at the 2018 Worlds, all with a kidney stone; her courageous Tokyo decision, to name a few.

Her return in 2023, after a year away, booming Yurchenko double pike in tow will certainly be added to the list.

Though Biles has each time made the impossible seem so easy, it's not.

"She's one of a kind," said coach Laurent Landi. "You can't teach this kind of competitive level like this. It's a skill that she has to compete so confident at such a high level because the routines are not easy. Maybe some people think it's easier for her but it's not easier for her. It's as hard as it takes, but when she's feeling good mentally and physically, then, she can hit eight-for-eight and will be the best one. That's all that matters at the end."

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