Simone Biles showed up to the 2023 U.S. gymnastics championships looking like Simone Biles.
The four-time Olympic gold medalist and 17-time world champion finished Day 1 of nationals with a commanding lead in the all-around competition, tallying up a 59.300 total score in her first rotation of the competition.
Shilese Jones, the all-around silver medalist at the 2022 world championships, sits in second in the all-around at 56.750 while 18-year-old Skye Blakely holds third at 55.700.
Biles, 26, told the Peacock broadcast she was happy with the performance, but hopes to improve on the balance beam:
“I think beam started off a little bit rough, but that’s kind of to be expected. You get your nerves out of the way, and then after that it was pretty smooth sailing. I’m pretty happy with the overall meet today. My goal for the weekend is just to hit 8-for-8, and then hopefully come in on Sunday and hopefully hit a little bit of a smoother beam routine.”
Biles’ performance included the top score in the floor exercise (14.800), vault (15.700) and beam (a not-too-rough 14.450), plus a relatively ho-hum third-place in the uneven bars (14.350). She will get the chance to lock in multiple titles in Day 2 on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET, Peacock).
Once again, Biles landed the Yurchenko double pike, her signature skill that no other female gymnast bothers to attempt.
If Biles takes care of business and wins her eighth all-around title on Sunday, she will break a tie with Alfred Jochim for the most U.S. all-around national titles, having also won in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021.
Biles made her long-awaited return to competition earlier this month at the U.S. Classic, blowing away the all-around competition at a meet where many of the biggest names only competed in a few events. It was the first time she had competed at the elite level since the 2020 Olympics, where the “twisties” derailed her program and put her future into question.
Biles spent the next two years working on herself, and still goes to therapy weekly. She didn’t confirm her status for the 2024 Olympics in Paris at the Classic, but told Peacock she was headed that way, as long as the national and world championships go as planned:
“We’re still in the working steps. My main goal was this and then championships, and then after that we’re onto worlds, and then we’ll see. So far it’s heading in the right direction, but I still have to work on myself. I’m still going to do my therapy, I’m going to put myself first.”
So far, so good.