KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At a training session on Wednesday ahead of the United States Gymnastics Championships, Simone Biles wore a leotard with a bedazzled goat on the back.
It was a reminder, in case people somehow forgot, that she is the greatest American gymnast of all time. With a combined 25 world championship and Olympic medals, including 18 golds, Biles stands alone atop the medal standings.
She got to this point by fearlessly performing elements that no one else has dared go near, and as Biles began her quest on Friday for a record-tying sixth national title, she became the first woman to perform a triple double (two flips with three twists) in the floor exercise of a competition.
Though she had trouble on the landing and had to steady herself by putting both hands on the mat, the judges ruled that Biles had completed the element. They awarded her 14.35 points for the routine, the highest total for the floor exercise on Friday, and Biles promised to try the triple double again on Sunday, when the women’s all-around title will be decided. She finished Friday night in the lead, 1.75 points ahead of Sunisa Lee.
Biles said she thought she had too much adrenaline flowing to control her power on the triple double. “It’s such a hard skill that I shouldn’t be mad,” Biles said of her fall, “but I’m so mad about it because in training I’ve never done it before.”