Simone Biles appears to be well-prepared for her trip to Japan.
The 24-year-old won her seventh U.S. title on Sunday night, delivering another stunning—and stunningly easy—performance that left little doubt that the pressure surrounding her bid to become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic all-around gold medals in more than 50 years is only pushing her to greater heights.
Biles bounced back from a shaky start on Friday, at least by her high standards, with a four-rotation display of what sets her apart from every other gymnast on the planet. Her score of 119.650 was approximately five points higher than Sunisa Lee, the runner-up, and Jordan Chiles, a good friend and teammate.
While Biles’ triumph was never in doubt—as it seldom has been in her nearly eight-year reign as the sport’s champion—she has no plans in taking it easy. After going out of bounds three times during her floor routine on Friday, Biles reacted how she almost always does: by cleaning up and increasing what is possible on the competition floor.
And to think she didn’t even bother with her most recent innovation, a Yurchenko double-pike vault she drilled twice at the U.S. Classic last month, which drew praise from everyone from LeBron James to Michelle Obama. Instead, she chose two slightly easier exercises that she completed so casually that it was difficult to tell if she was in front of an arena screaming for her at every turn or just fooling around at practice back home in Houston.
It didn’t really matter. Regardless, she had the highest vault score. She did the same thing on beam. She did the same thing on the floor, just like every other time.
Biles began her night on a balancing beam, where she barely wobbled while putting together a routine that remains among the gold standard in the world on an event that is perhaps her third best, with the instrumental from Lizzo’s “Good as Hell” playing while the entire arena stopped to watch.
Her floor exercise, which includes two parts named for her in the sport’s Code of Points, was significantly more exact than it had been the day before. All but one of her tumbling passes were in bounds, and her 14.950 featured a 6.8 D-score, which ranks the difficulty of the routine, which was tied for the most by any competitor on any event at the competition.
Lee, competing with a damaged ankle that has left her limping around the arena at times, appears to be picking up speed after a difficult return to competition last month. Lee held off a strong challenge from Chiles behind a bars performance that is one of the most imaginative and electrifying globally.
Chiles’ incredible ascent over the last six months continued as she finished second to Biles for the second time in three weeks. Following the trials in St. Louis later this month, the 20-year-old, who began training with Biles two years ago, is almost certain to be named to the U.S. Olympic team.
The real question going into the trials is who else will emerge from such a packed field. Emma Malabuyo was sixth, and Leanne Wong was fourth. Jade Carey, who has already qualified for the Olympics as an at-large entrant because of her performance on the World Cup circuit, finished sixth.