Whether you call it a comeback or simply a continuation of her dominance, Simone Biles’ performance at the 2023 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Championships further cements her place as the sport’s greatest of all time.
The 26-year-old Biles stood atop the podium at the national championship on Sunday for the eighth time in her career. Biles won the all-around competition with a two-day total of 118.40 points, beating silver medalist Shilese Jones by four points. University of Florida junior Leanne Wong took home the bronze medal.
Biles’ eighth national title vaults her into the record books in two ways. First, she is the oldest woman to win a title since USA Gymnastics launched the event in 1963. More importantly, Biles now has the most U.S. championships in her sport, claiming the title from Alfred Jochim, who won seven titles nearly a century ago, from 1925-1933.
But when asked about her record-breaking accomplishment, Biles insisted she doesn’t prioritize keeping track of those things.
“I feel like I don’t think about numbers, I think about my performance,” Biles told NBC News.
Biles started the month by winning the U.S. Classic Competition. This appearance and victory marked the first time she had competed since she withdrew from the 2020 Olympics after experiencing “the twisties,” a form of mental unfocus and disorientation that causes gymnasts to lose track of where they are in the air while performing gymnastic skills.
During her two-year absence, Biles focused on her life outside training and competition. In April, she married NFL player Jonathan Owens. Toward the end of 2022, Biles quietly went back into the gym and eventually decided in May to start moving back into competition.
Now, she seems like a different athlete and person than the first time she won the national title a decade ago. Then, she was a 16-year-old girl about to start a meteoric rise that she would have difficulty grasping. Now, after taking time away from her beloved sport to focus on mental health, Biles cherishes each moment.
“We really try to celebrate our success individually and as a team just so that in a couple of years you can remember this,” Biles told the Associated Press.”Because I really don’t remember a lot from the past.”
What’s next for the reigning Women’s U.S. Gymnastics Champion? Biles didn’t give a lot of specifics when she replied to that question from AP.
“I like to keep (my goals) personal, just so that I know what I’m aiming for,” she said. “I think it’s better that way. I’m trying to move a little differently this year than I have in the past. I think it’s working so far, so I’m going to keep it secretive.”
We can’t wait to see what she decides to do!