Simone Biles jumps off the balance beam during the American Cup. Biles led from the start in a record-setting win at the American Cup in her first competition since winning two consecutive world all-around title last year. (Photo: LM Otero, AP)
Simone Biles’ performance at the AT&T American Cup on Saturday sent a loud enough message. A nearly 4.5-point win in gymnastics is almost unheard of.
But on a day when she executed the most difficult routines flawlessly, what she said afterward might speak louder to the women who hope to beat her in the Rio Olympics.
“I don’t even know my own difficulty, so I think it’s normal,” said Biles. “I guess it’s pretty easy for me sometimes, but I still have to train hard for it.”
Yes, an athlete who just took a win comparable to your local college team beating up on the high school JV squad says the most difficult routines tried by any gymnast here are easy.
Biles won her first American Cup with nearly 200 friends and family in the crowd at AT&T Stadium. Fellow American MyKayla Skinner finished second, posting a 57.832 to finish 4.467 behind Biles’ 62.299.
She won each event, no surprise coming from the two-time defending all-around World Champion. Already the overwhelming favorite to win Olympic gold in 17 months, Biles’ performance raises the question: Just how big could that gap be?
To be sure, while the field included some of the world’s top women gymnasts, tougher competitions remain, and Biles likely faces her biggest challenge from her American teammates. Reigning Olympic champion Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, a double gold medalist in London, are training in hopes of competing in Rio. And Biles, who missed American Cup last year with a shoulder injury, will need to stay healthy.
But as Biles showed again on Saturday, her ability to not only perform the toughest tricks but also do them without mistakes sets her above the rest of the field. She posted three of the four highest scores in the meet, including 16s and higher on floor exercise and vault.
Her start value was the highest on three of four events, with uneven bars being the only apparatus where she didn’t have the most difficult routine. Yet she tied for the best execution score in that event, which has always been her weakest.
“She has all the events basically. She is able to make a small mistake and still be ahead of everybody,” said Martha Karolyi, the U.S. national team coordinator. “That’s the great advantage when you have the great start values.”
For Biles, the biggest competition is with herself. Despite a win on beam by a good margin, a bobble left her disappointed. Her training in that event has been better than her competition showed here.
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SOURCE: USA Today