Olympic champion Simone Biles easily won her fifth US women’s gymnastics title Sunday night, winning all four events as well as the all-around in a dominant performance that showcased the ever-widening chasm between Biles and the rest of her sport.
The 21-year-old posted a two-day total of 119.850, more than six points ahead of reigning world champion Morgan Hurd and a full seven points clear of Riley McCusker. Biles’ margin of victory was greater than the gap between Hurd and 11th-place finisher Jordan Chiles.
Biles is the second woman to win nationals five times, joining Clara Schroth Lomady, who won six between 1945 and 1952. Biles also became the first woman since three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes in 1994 to wind up first on floor exercise, balance beam, vault and uneven bars.
The only real challenge Biles faced on any event came from McCusker. A year removed from a hamstring injury that forced her to take herself out of consideration for the world championship team, McCusker put on a brilliant performance on uneven bars. She hugged coach Maggie Haney after sticking her dismount, but McCusker’s total of 29.300 was a tenth less than the 29.400 Biles posted on an event that used to be a weakness, or at least as close to a weakness as Biles gets. Otherwise it was Biles in a runaway.
A year ago Biles was wrapping up a post-Olympic whirlwind in which she basked in the aftermath of her glorious run at the 2016 Olympics in which she brought home four gold medals, five overall and entered the “first-name” pantheon in gymnastics, a club that includes Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton.
Biles, however, is making a compelling case that she may be entering a class all her own. She didn’t get serious about a return until last fall, when she went back into training with new coaches in Laurent and Cecile Landi and not just returning to the form that made her one of the stars in Rio de Janeiro but pushing the boundaries of gymnastics.
Two meets into her comeback, Biles appears well on her way. Her all-around score of 60.1 during the opening round on Friday was the highest since she and Aly Raisman both topped the 60-point barrier during the all-around finals in Brazil. And Biles did it despite stepping out of bounds twice during her powerful tumbling runs.
Biles worried a bit about her endurance after cramming two meets in a span of three weeks. She wasn’t quite as sharp on Sunday as she was on Friday — scoring a bit lower on bars and beam — but it hardly mattered. She was so far ahead coming into the finals she needed do little more than stay upright to finish the night atop the podium.
Biles will get a chance to add to her 14 world championship medals when she leads Team USA to Qatar in October. Hurd, McCusker and vault specialist Jordan Chiles figure to be on the plane too. Whoever earns the fifth spot will join a team that be heavily favored to continue its international supremacy.
The Americans have won every major international team competition since the 2011 world championships, a run that started two years before Biles rose to prominence and one that figures to continue indefinitely with Biles doing things no gymnast has ever done.