June 15, 2024

KATY, Texas — Simone Biles is heading back to where her record-breaking reign atop gymnastics began.

The American star headlines the five-woman U.S. team that will compete at the 2023 world championships in Belgium during the first week of October. Biles’ appearance will be her sixth at the event, the most ever by an American woman.

Biles will be joined by three members of the gold medal-winning 2022 world championship team — Shilese Jones, Leanne Wong and Skye Blakely — as well as 17-year-old Joscelyn Roberson.

The meet will be held in Antwerp, where Biles won the first of her five world all-around titles as a 16-year-old prodigy. A full decade later, she will return looking to become the most decorated gymnast in history.

Biles has seven Olympic medals (including the 2016 Olympic title) and 25 world championship medals, 19 of them gold. Her 32 combined medals are tied with Larisa Latynina of the Soviet Union for the most ever at the sport’s two signature events.

The newlywed 26-year-old Biles will be heavily favored to have the record all to herself by the time she heads back to the U.S. on Oct. 9. She has dominated in her comeback following a two-year break after her appearance in the pandemic-delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics was plagued by a bout with a mental block known as “the twisties.”

Biles dazzled at the U.S. Classic outside Chicago in early August, then added her eighth national title in San Jose, California, a few weeks later.

She wasn’t quite so sharp on Tuesday during the first day of a two-day selection camp outside of her hometown of Houston. She fell on uneven bars, stepped out of bounds on floor exercise and over-rotated her signature Yurchenko double-pike vault, landing on her back in the process.

Her overall score of 55.700 was just ahead of Jones, who posted a 55.300. Biles was much sharper while competing on uneven bars and balance beam on Wednesday.

“Yesterday was a rough day, but it’s better now [than to] get it out over there [at worlds],” she said. “Today’s two-event was obviously a lot better getting the nerves out. I feel like everybody was nervous yesterday, not just me and I don’t know why.”

Biles, the face of the U.S. Olympic movement going into Tokyo, is taking a more low-profile approach. She has only begrudgingly mentioned her goal is to make it to the 2024 Olympics next summer in Paris, choosing instead to focus on the process and take things one event at a time.

“Just doing fun stuff,” said Biles, who married Green Bay Packers safety Jonathan Owens in the spring. “Being a wife. Being a daughter.”

Sunisa Lee, the 2020 Olympic all-around champion, declined an invitation to participate in the world championship selection camp. Lee, who has been battling kidney issues that cut short her sophomore year at Auburn during the spring, posted in her Instagram stories on Wednesday that it was a necessary decision so she can focus on making it to Paris next summer.

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