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Simone Biles Cements Status as GOAT With 8th U.S. All-Around Championship

Simone Biles Cements Status as GOAT With 8th U.S. All-Around Championship

Simone Biles continued her 10-year quest to becoming the greatest gymnast of all time Sunday in San Jose, California, winning the all-around title at the U.S. national championships.

It was the record-breaking eighth national all-around title for the 26-year-old Columbus, Ohio, native.

Despite taking a mental health break when she withdrew from four individual events and the team finals at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Biles—whose reign of dominance started in 2013 with her first U.S. all-around title—is the most decorated U.S. gymnast, with 32 medals between the Olympics and world championships.

Biles seized the moment over the weekend with a two-day all-around total of 118.40, four points better than runner-up Shilese Jones.

Exploring the Greatness of Simone Biles
Simone Biles reacts after competing in the floor exercise on day four of the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships at SAP Center on August 27, 2023, in San Jose, California.
Ezra Shaw/Getty

“I’m in the moment, but it also doesn’t feel real for some reason,” Biles told reporters afterward. “I just seriously can’t believe I’m out here competing again. I just really can’t. So I’m proud of myself for that.”

Biles’ all-around win broke a 90-year-old record set by Alfred Jochim, who won seven U.S. all-around titles between 1925 and 1933 when the competition included rope climbing.

The only climbing Biles is doing now is elevating in the pantheon of legendary athletes in any sport. She’s the oldest woman to win the American all-around, demonstrating her 10-year chokehold on the sport.

“I’ve been doing it for so long, I feel like I don’t think about numbers,” Biles, who secured the title with a 15.400 in the floor exercise, said on NBC, which broadcast the event. “I think about my performance. I think overall, I hit 8-for-8 [clean events]. So eight, I guess it’s a lucky number this year.”

The victory qualifies Biles for the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships set to start September 30 in Antwerp, Belgium.

“It’s a skill that she has to compete so confident at such a high level because the routines are not easy,” Laurent Landi, Biles’ coach, said on NBC. “Maybe some people think it’s easier for her, but it’s not easier for her. It’s as hard as it takes, but when she’s feeling good mentally and physically, then, she can hit 8-for-8 and will be the best one. That’s all that matters at the end.”

Biles wouldn’t confirm her intention to compete in Paris at the 2024 Olympics. But at the ripe-old-age of 26, she knows that gymnastics won’t last for an eternity, even though she’s been on top for more than a decade.

“I like to keep [my goals] personal just so that I know what I am aiming for,” Biles said. “I’m trying to move a little bit differently this year than I have in the past. So I think it’s working so far, so I’m gonna keep it a little bit secretive. I’m kind of at the age where it’s like, ‘Yo, just let me be at peace.’ So, one thing at a time.”

Biles, whose innovation in the sport is legendary, has won 32 medals between the Olympics and world championships. She has perfected the Yurchenko double pike on the vault, seemingly defying the laws of gravity. Her floor routine continues to captivate audiences around the world.

Biles told reporters that she’s going to take the time to sniff all of the roses rightfully thrown at her feet.

“It’s really amazing. Everybody in here believes in me, and my teammates believe in me, my coaches, my family, everyone,” she said. “I need to start believing in myself a little bit more. But it feels amazing. And I love the fans, I love the crowd. It’s really special.”

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