HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Simone Biles’ shoulder is just fine.
The 2013 all-around gymnastics world champion and 2016 Olympic Games hopeful illustrated precisely how healthy her shoulder is at the Secret U.S. Classic, a few months after withdrawing from the AT&T American Cup in March and the Pacific Rim Championships in April due to a shoulder injury.
She opened with a near perfect floor routing Saturday night. She landed her Amanar on the vault for a 15.900 score.
When she finished the night with another first-place performance on the balance beam, Biles had won four gold medals including the all-around. It was the first time in an international or national-level event that she had won gold in three individual events plus the all-around.
“I think I just proved to myself that I do still have it, and I can go out there and compete like I do in training or better,” Biles said. “I think I gained a little of my confidence back because I had been out for so long. I think it shows that I’m excited and ready to compete again.”
Next up is the P&G Gymnastics Championships, which begin Aug. 21 in Pittsburgh, followed by the 45th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in October in China.
The national championships will determine the national teams for both women and men. The women’s roster for the world championships, which will feature both team and individual competition this year, will be determined by a selection camp after the national championships are held.
Looking on proudly Saturday were Biles’ personal coach, Aimee Boorman, and national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, not to mention 2012 Olympian and close friend Kyla Ross, who walked out of Sears Centre Arena with more medals than Biles. Ross collected five medals, winning the silver medal in the all-around and medaling in all four individual events.
“It’s great because it’s our first meet back since world championships last year,” Boorman said. “We had some setbacks earlier in the year. We were ready to compete, then her body wasn’t cooperating so well. For her to actually get back in and remind herself what she is capable of, it’s a really good place to start.”
The night ended with Biles and Ross both scoring 15.250 to tie for first on the balance beam.
“We’re always saying we’re like twins because we always have the same shoes or the same sweatshirt,” Ross said. “We said, ‘Oh, now we’re twins on beam, too.’”
“I thought it was really cool,” Biles said. “I was really excited. I did a lot better in training and we have to go back to that, but I was happy with the overall result.”
The same can be said for Ross, who finished second in the all-around, vault and floor exercise, and placed third on the bars.
“I was real happy with my performance today. I was able to come up and hit all my routines,” Ross said.
Ross was a medal-winner at the U.S. Classic for the sixth consecutive year, dating back to her debut in the 2009 CoverGirl Classic when she won gold in the all-around as a junior. She has finished first or second in the all-around in the last three Secret U.S. Classic events, dating back to her senior debut in 2012.
Biles won the vault, floor exercise and balance beam. Her only stumble of the night came before the uneven bars competition, when she tripped on one of the stairs leading to the competition platform.
“I’m always tripping. I‘m so clumsy,” Biles said, laughing.
The only event Biles did not win was the bars. Ashton Locklear won that event with a score of 15.700, Ross was third and Biles finished fourth.
With the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games just two years out, a career night came at just the right time for Biles. She began the night by running up to 2012 Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney for a hug (the picture was on three-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman‘s Twitter account while Biles competed), then she competed in the same rotation all night long with 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ross.
“The whole time we’re just having fun,” Ross said. “It’s so fun to have Simone out there because she’s so relaxed. She always makes us laugh.”
While Biles and Ross were already qualified for the P&G Championships, nine additional gymnasts qualified for the championships thanks to their performances Saturday: Locklear in the senior division; Aria Brusch, Rachael Flam, Margzetta Frazier, Delanie Harkness, Shilese Jones, Taylor Lawson, Adriana Popp and Lexy Ramler in the junior division.