Biles' triple-double tops sixth title

Simone Biles performing her floor routine at the US Gymnastics Championships in Missouri.
Simone Biles performing her floor routine at the US Gymnastics Championships in Missouri. PHOTO: REUTERS

KANSAS CITY • The choice was entirely hers. Only, there really was not one for Simone Biles to make.

Sure, she could have taken her triple-twisting double-flip (also known as a triple-double) out of her floor exercise routine during the final night of the United States women's gymnastics championships on Sunday.

She surely did not need it to assure herself of another national title. Still, even as her coach Laurent Landi left the option up to her, he knew the answer.

Spend enough time in the gym around Biles, who is redefining what is possible in her sport one exhilarating routine at a time and it quickly becomes evident that sidestepping a challenge is not really her thing.

So she threw it at the end of her first tumbling pass, fuelled 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.

The competition - just like it has been for six years and counting whenever the four-time Olympic gold medallist is involved - was over.

The triple-double - she is the only female gymnast in history to perform it - served as the exclamation point on her sixth national championship title, matching Clara Schroth Lomady's record set in 1952.

Biles first landed the triple-double on Friday, but was angry at herself after putting both hands down on the mat - even though judges ruled she completed the element.

Attempting to find the boundaries of her immense talent is what drives her, which is why she never thought about ditching it.

"It's like she hit a hole-in-one and we were all there," USA Gymnastics high performance director Tom Forster said. "It's a big deal and we all know it.

"No one in the world has done it before in the women and actually, she does it better than most of the men who have done it."

"I was a lot happier today," Biles said. "I feel I haven't been as confident on bars this year as I was last year.

"To finally do a good routine, I was really happy. I was very happy and the last event, so I was like, thank God we're done."

In a sport that sometimes forces athletes to choose between skill and execution, Biles does not have to. She not only puts together the most difficult routines in the world, she does them better than anyone else.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2019, with the headline 'Biles' triple-double tops sixth title'. Print Edition | Subscribe