U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials: Simone Biles leads as injuries derail others

Simone Biles wobbled, stepped and shook her way through her beam routine, and when she mercifully dismounted, she rolled her eyes. A camera zoomed in on her face projected Biles on the big screen at Target Center appearing to mutter a four-letter word that left the sold-out crowd laughing.

“Relatable,” a woman in the crowd said.

Biles restored order and took a comfortable first-place lead after the first day of competition at the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials, but the selection process for the Olympic team grew ever murkier after a slew of injuries in a meet filled with nerves and mistakes.

After Biles’ meet-leading 58.900, UCLA star Jordan Chiles was solid on all four events to place second with a 56.400. Reigning all-around champion Suni Lee proved that despite battling two kidney diseases, she is still a threat on all four events, finishing third with an all-around score of 56.025, her highest since she won all-around gold in Tokyo three years ago.

All three are in strong standing to earn repeat bids to the Olympics. The Olympic team will be announced Sunday after the second day of competition, which begins at 5:30 p.m. PDT (NBC).

After Biles, the selection process was expected to be one of the most difficult in recent history because of the national team’s depth. Injuries are testing that depth already.

Three of the top seven Olympic contenders were injured by the first routine. While two-time world team champion Skye Blakely patrolled the floor with her leg in a hard cast because of an Achilles injury suffered Wednesday during podium training, Shilese Jones, the No. 2 all-around contender behind Biles, injured her left knee during vault warmups. Then on the first routine of the meet, Kayla DiCello, who was an alternate for the Tokyo Olympic team, injured her right ankle. Coaches carried her off the mat and placed her in a wheelchair as she was forced to withdraw.

Already battling a shoulder injury that kept her out of U.S. championships, Jones tried to gut through the event. She scored a 14.675 on bars, but grimaced after she landed her dismount and gingerly walked off the podium with a noticeable limp. She scratched on the other three events.

The injuries have opened doors for Chiles and Leanne Wong to solidify spots on the national team. Chiles is hoping to return to the Olympics after helping the U.S. win silver in Tokyo.

Wong competed an upgraded vault worth six-tenths more in difficulty points. Although she appeared to miss her left hand on the Cheng vault that resulted in a two-point deduction that was reversed upon inquiry, showing the difficult skill will strengthen her Olympic bid among the selection committee. The three-person group hopes to maximize point-earning potential in the Olympic team final, where three athletes compete on every event and all scores count to the team total.

“It’s always a puzzle,” Alicia Sacramone Quinn, the strategic lead of the women’s high performance team, told reporters Wednesday of picking the team. “That’s how we always talk about it. It’s a combination of our best all-arounders, our best event finalists.”

The subjectivity of the event leaves the door open for Jones, whose only routine of the night provided the highest score on bars. Jade Carey, the reigning Olympic floor champion, could also earn a bid on the five-person team with her floor and vault prowess. She sits fourth in the all-around.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top