Simone Biles secures spot on Tokyo Olympic gymnastics team with epic trials routines

In a not very surprising turn of events, gymnastics superstar Simone Biles, one of the most dominant athletes in the world, has secured her spot on the United States Gymnastics team for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games

Biles, who won four gold medals at the last summer Games, wowed the crowd during the U.S. Gymnastics Olympic trials in St. Louis, over the weekend. On Sunday, the 24-year-old earned one of two automatic guaranteed places on the team. 

But the spot wasn’t as easy to secure as some may have expected of the reigning world and Olympic champion. After a few mistakes during her bars routine, a fall off the beam and a step out of bounds during her floor exercise, she found herself second to Sunisa Lee in her all-around score. 

“I kind of got in my head today and started doubting myself,” Biles told reporters. “And you could see that in the gymnastics. But just go home, work harder. This is just the beginning of the journey.”

Still, Biles’ two-day total score of 118.098 was more than two points ahead of Lee, who secured the other automatic spot. Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey will also compete in Tokyo, and Kayla DiCello, Kara Eaker, Leanne Wong and Emma Malabuyo will serve as alternates.

Biles had hoped to end her career with more Olympic golds last summer and then retire. But when the pandemic postponed the Games until this July, Biles reluctantly decided to train for another year, telling 60 Minutes, “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.”

Ahead of the trials, Biles won a record seventh national women’s all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championship in Fort Worth, Texas. Lee placed second, and Chiles placed third. 

At the last 2016 summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Biles won four gold medals, taking the top spot in the floor exercise, vault, all-around and team events. She earned a bronze medal on the balance beam. 

Biles currently has four moves named after her: two on the floor, one on the beam, and one on the vault. 

Will there be a fifth move after Tokyo? “There might be two more actually,” she told 60 Minutes. 

The hotly-contested Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on July 23, despite protests from locals over Japan’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The vast majority of the country’s population has not yet been vaccinated. 

USA Gymnastics continues to face controversy of its own, in the wake of former physician Larry Nassar’s sentencing to a third prison term of 40 to 125 years for molesting gymnasts, including Biles. Biles says there are “a lot of questions that still need to be answered,” and has demanded an independent investigation. 

“They haven’t taken accountability for their actions and what they’ve done. And they haven’t ensured us that it’s never going to happen again,” she said. 

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