Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee get automatic spots on US Olympic gymnastics team, which will be favored for gold
ST. LOUIS — As if the U.S. women weren’t already formidable enough.
Simone Biles won the two-day Olympic trials to lock her spot on the Tokyo team. Sunisa Lee did, too, actually finishing ahead of Biles in Sunday night’s all-around competition.
While Biles will still be the overwhelming favorite to become the first woman in more than 50 years to defend her Olympic title – her errors here uncharacteristic and sure to provide even more fuel – Lee establishes herself as a threat to join Biles on the all-around podium. As for the rest of the team, they give the Americans the potential to leave Tokyo with a lot of medals.
A lot a lot.
Jordan Chiles, who was third behind Biles and Lee at both the national championships and trials, hasn't counted a fall all year. That's 24 routines between Winter Cup in February, the U.S. Classic in May, nationals and trials, and there isn’t a team in the world that would turn down that kind of consistency.
When Chiles finished the floor exercise, her last routine of the night, she bent over and briefly put her face in her hands. Coach Cecile Landi gave her a big hug as she walked off the podium, and she then shared a long embrace with Biles, who she trains with in Houston.
Simone Biles, competing on the floor exercise during the U.S. gymnastics trials, is headed to her second Olympics. (Photo: Carmen Mandato, Getty Images)
Biles was a given to make the Tokyo team from the second she announced in late 2017 that she was coming back — I mean, duh. But Lee and Chiles clearly separated themselves by the time of the national championships.
That left a fierce battle for the last spot on the four-woman team, and it went to Grace McCallum, a member of the 2018 and 2019 world championship teams.
McCallum bounced so far out of bounds on her first tumbling pass on floor that she almost went off the podium, and landed another so low she was practically on her knees. She also had some small errors on balance beam.
But she is steady, and is improving with each competition after a hand injury earlier this year limited her training.
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OPINION: Biles is going to push limits of gymnastics – no matter what judges say
Though MyKayla Skinner won't compete with the U.S. team, she can finally shed her label as the perennial alternate, selected as one of the Americans' two individual gymnasts. Skinner also has medal potential on two events, vault and floor exercise.
After finishing vault, her final event Sunday, Skinner smiled and blew kisses to the crowd. When she was introduced as a member of the Olympic team, she practically sprinted up the steps of the podium.
[email protected] with the vault of her LIFE!
#GymTrials21 x #TokyoOlympics
📺 NBC // https://t.co/CeV4wPEcfrpic.twitter.com/xq7XFzehsy
Jade Carey had already locked down the other individual spot as the winner of the vault title in the individual apparatus World Cup series. She, too, will be a contender on both floor and vault.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
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