In her first competitive event since 2021, legendary gymnast Simone Biles made a triumphant return, claiming first place in front of a packed house at the Core Hydration Classic Saturday.
The gymnastics superstar scored a 14.0 on the uneven bars, a 14.8 on the balance beam, a 14.9 in the floor exercise and a remarkable 15.4 in the vault before a roaring crowd in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, just outside Chicago.
Overall, Biles finished in first place in the all-around, vault, floor routine and balance beam. She placed third on the uneven bars.
The seven-time Olympic medalist made her first appearance since pulling out of several events at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Her scores put her ahead of competitors Jordan Chiles, Leanne Wong, and Katelyn Jong at the Core Hydration Classic, previously called the US Classic.
During her floor routine, Biles performed a double layout with a half-turn – a move named after her, to earn score of 14.9.
Biles then performed a Yurchenko double pike, considered the hardest women’s vault in the world, to earn an impressive score of 15.4. She will need to perform the Yurchenko double pike in an international competition for it to be officially named after her.
Entering the final event, Biles needed a score of 10.350 to move into first place in the all-around competition. She finished 5 points ahead of second place finisher Leanne Wong, with an all-around score of 59.1 and qualified for the US national championships.
Being cheered on by the crowd, Biles reacted with a fist bump and her signature smile after finishing the final event.
Competitors are scored on a combination of execution and difficulty, with total scores for each event typically falling in between 12 and 15.
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Simone Biles competes on the balance beam.
The 26-year-old athlete withdrew from the women’s team final in Tokyo after suffering from what is known as the “twisties” – a mental block that causes gymnasts to lose track of their position in midair.
Biles opted not to compete in four individual finals at the Tokyo Games, but she did return to compete in the balance beam, winning bronze after using a modified dismount in her routine.
The Core Hydration Classic is the final opportunity for athletes to qualify for the national championships in San Jose, California, later this month.
The world gymnastics championships are then scheduled to take place between September 30 and October 8 in Antwerp, Belgium.
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Biles competes on vault during the women’s team final at the Tokyo Olympics.
A sellout crowd on Saturday flocked to the Hoffman Estates, where spectators were eager to not only see Biles’ much-anticipated comeback, but also the likes of returning Olympic gold medalist Sunisa Lee.
Biles is the most decorated gymnast in US history, winning 32 medals across the Olympics and the world championships. Among her medal haul are four golds at the Olympics and 19 golds at the world championships – the most by any gymnast in history.
Although Biles is registered to compete in all four events this weekend, athletes may decide not to compete on an apparatus at any given time.
After a two-year hiatus, Biles is returning to gymnastics as a celebrated advocate for mental health. Even in the months after the Olympics, she said she was still “scared to do gymnastics,” but recently said on Instagram that she is “twisting again. No worries. All is good.”
She has made few public comments about her return to the sport but did express her excitement on social media last month, writing: “Sorry I’ve been a little MIA since the announcement. I’m overwhelmed with all of your messages, support & love! excited to get back out on the competition floor!”
For those accustomed to seeing Biles dominate competitions with ease, her departure in 2021 was an unexpected move. But for some more familiar with the intense physical and psychological demands of the sport, Biles’ decision to opt out of competition was more unprecedented than it was surprising.
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Simone Biles, performs on the balance beam.
“(Biles’ departure) was shocking in that nobody else had ever in gymnastics stood up and said ‘Enough. Right now, this is enough, and I need to take care of myself no matter what everybody wants from me on the biggest stage on the planet,’” sports journalist and author Joan Ryan told CNN Sport.
Fans and fellow athletes alike are excited to witness the gymnastics great back in action and with the opening ceremony of next year’s Olympics less than a year away, what more is to come for the most decorated US gymnast in history?
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Simone Biles competes in the floor exercise during the World Championships in 2019.
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Biles talks with her grandfather, Ron, as she trains in Houston in August 2013. Biles grew up in Spring, Texas, just outside of Houston.
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Biles competes on the balance beam during the US National Gymnastics Championships in August 2013. She won gold in the individual all-around.
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Biles poses after winning a gold medal at the 2013 World Championships. She finished first in the individual all-around.
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Biles dodges a bee flying near her during the medal ceremony at the 2014 World Championships. She successfully defended her title in the individual all-around.
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Biles, left, poses at home with her grandparents Ron and Nellie, who adopted her and her younger sister Adria, right.
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Biles practices in Houston in January 2016.
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Biles, right, and fellow gymnast Gabby Douglas stand during the opening ceremony of the 2016 US Olympic Trials. Both made the team. Douglas was the Olympic all-around champion in 2012.
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Biles celebrates with her teammates after the US Olympic Trials in 2016.
Biles competes on the balance beam at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She won gold in the individual all-around and the team all-around. She also added two more golds and a bronze.
Biles competes on the uneven bars at the 2016 Olympics.
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From left, US gymnasts Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas celebrate after winning gold in the team all-around at the 2016 Olympics.
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Biles celebrates with the gold medal she earned for her individual all-around title at the 2016 Olympics.
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Biles has her legs held by host Jimmy Fallon as she plays a game called Hungry Hungry Humans on “The Tonight Show” in August 2016. Also playing were actor Donald Glover and some of Biles’ teammates.
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Biles poses with swimming legend Michael Phelps, Raisman and actress Olivia Munn during a recording of the show “Lip Sync Battle: All Stars Live” in September 2016.
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First lady Michelle Obama rests her elbow on Biles’ head as President Barack Obama speaks at the White House in September 2016. The Obamas were hosting an event for US Olympians.
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Biles takes a photo with a young fan in Houston in September 2016.
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Biles competes in “Dancing with the Stars” with Sasha Farber in 2017. They would finish in fourth place.
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Biles speaks after receiving the ESPY Award for best female athlete in 2017.
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Biles performs with the Houston Texans cheerleaders in December 2017.
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Biles competes on the uneven bars during the 2018 World Championships. She won gold in the individual all-around.
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Biles soars through the air while competing on the uneven bars at the World Championships in 2019. Again, she won gold in the individual all-around.
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Biles celebrates after winning the balance beam final at the 2019 World Championships.
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Biles appears on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” in September 2022. On the right is US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.