Olympic gymnastics champ Gabby Douglas second in U.S. championships tune-up
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Simone Biles successfully defended her all-around title in the Secret U.S. Classic on Saturday night, continuing a run of victories for the reigning world champion.
The event also featured the return to U.S. competition for Gabby Douglas, the American all-around gold medalist in the London Olympics, who finished second.
Biles won the vault with two electrifying and high-flying turns. She also won the floor event with a crowd-pleasing, playful and acrobatic routine, and topped the field in the balance beam.
Biles unveiled new routines on the balance beam and for the floor event, and even though she won both those she was jittery as the competition started.
"I was just so nervous, but I just need to get that confidence and consistency," Biles said. "Afterwards, I felt really good about it, but before, I was so nervous I was just shaking."
Biles’ last loss at a major competition was at the Secret Classic in 2013, when she fell in the uneven bars and floor exercise and didn’t attempt a vault.
The 18-year-old Texan earned 62.400 points, nearly two full points clear of Douglas. Maggie Nichols took the all-around bronze, edging Bailie Key. Aly Raisman, also competing for the first time on home soil since before the London Games, was fifth.
Douglas, trying to come back after taking time off after the Olympics, is aiming at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where she hopes to become the first repeat all-around gold medalist since Vera Caslavska of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Douglas was cheered loudly on every event on Saturday by a crowd eager to welcome her back.
"Just to feed off the crowd, the positive energy, really hypes me and motivates me up," said Douglas. "It was fun."
Douglas also said she’s matured since her Olympic win, and after her success has a new confidence that she think makes her even better.
"I’m more confident, I just trust myself a little bit more than I did in 2012, so it just felt really amazing," Douglas said.
Raisman, the captain of the gold-medal winning 2012 U.S. women’s Olympic team known as the Fierce Five, took 2013 and most of 2014 off before starting to train again, and she and Douglas returned to competition in March at the City of Jesolo event in Italy, where Biles won the all-around.
The Secret U.S. Classic was the final event for gymnasts to qualify for the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in August in Indianapolis, but Biles, Douglas, Nichols and Raisman had all already qualified, so the event was a tune-up.
Biles, who plans to attend UCLA after the 2016 Olympics, won a second straight all-around gold at last year’s World Championships, becoming the first American to repeat as world champion since Shannon Miller in 1994. She also is a two-time defending national champion.