KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Simone Biles stepped up for the floor exercise Sunday night, she was prepared to attempt something the sport had never seen: a triple-double, meaning two flips and three twists. She slipped a tad when she attempted it Friday night, but this time, she landed it nearly perfectly.
Her legend grew in a matter of minutes.
Hours later, Biles returned to a more familiar place.
When she climbed onto the U.S. gymnastics national championships winner’s podium at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., Biles was prepared to do something she had already done five times previously: accept the all-around gold medal.
Biles earned her sixth with a total all-around score of 118.500, tying her for the most national titles in the sport’s history.
“I didn’t want to be the last person to see it,” said Biles, who won gold in the floor exercise, balance beam and vault and bronze on uneven bars, “so I went online to see what it looked like, so me and (coach) Laurent (Landi) could watch it again. I was very pleased that I actually landed it this time in competition.”
Biles has now risen to a level where only a few have gone. Even the gymnast she tied for national titles Sunday night, Clara Schroth Lomady, isn’t in contention for the greatest-of-all-time status.
That honor belongs to Mary Lou Retton, a retired gymnast whose gold medal in the individual all-around competition at the 1984 Summer Olympics made her the first American woman to win such a thing.
But even she admits it: Biles is better.
“I say it over and over,” Retton told People magazine in 2016. “She is the greatest gymnast ever. I really do think that.”
That much was evident in the final standings Sunday night. Sunisa Lee earned the all-around silver, winning gold on the uneven bars and scoring a 113.550, while Grace McCallum brought home the all-around bronze, totaling a score of 111.850.