By Ashley Scoby
Simone Biles’ biggest smile of the night Friday came not after her first historical move – but after her second.
At the end of her fourth rotation, Biles landed a double-double off the balance beam, her face splitting into a huge grin. It was the first time in history a woman has completed that dismount off the beam.
“I’m really happy with the beam dismount and how it’s come along, because if you had asked me after (GK U.S.) Classics if I was going to compete it, I would have said no,” she said. “So I feel like in those short two weeks we did a lot of work. … I’m pretty excited about how it turned out.”
Biles’ double-double off the beam came after she threw a triple-double on her floor routine. On the landing to that, she did have to catch herself on her hands, but judges ruled she completed the move but counted a fall. The Sprint Center crowd of 10,916 in Kansas City roared, knowing how colossal of a moment it was.
It was an historic night for a gymnast who already has made plenty of history: most decorated U.S. women’s gymnast with 25 World/Olympic medals, including a record 20 World medals; her 14 World gold medals are the most in gymnastics history; first woman to win four World all-around titles; to name a few. Also, Biles already has five U.S. all-around titles and is competing for her sixth this weekend in Kansas City. She leads the field after the first day with a score of 58.65.
Biles’ mindset on Friday was the perfect example for the inner motivation that has driven one of the best athletes in the world. She said that she was disappointed with herself for the imperfect landing on the triple-double. Still, she’s been consistent with the skill in training and will bring it out again on Sunday.
“I still get really frustrated because I know how good I am and how well I can do, so I just want to do the best routine for the audience and for myself out here,” she said.
On a night where Biles wasn’t as thrilled with herself as the rest of the gymnastics world was, she was still the best on the floor, comfortably in the lead heading into second and final women’s day on Sunday. Second-place Sunisa Lee was behind her at 56.9.
Biles’ ground-breaking floor routine was her first apparatus of the night. And while her flashy routine sparked the crowd’s excitement for the rest of the night, her mistake on the landing only served to motivate her the rest of the way.
She got even closer to perfection on her beam dismount. Despite attempting a double-double, something that has never been done before in women’s gymnastics, Biles was confident. And it showed. She stuck the landing, throwing her arms in the air and breaking into her first huge smile of the night. Trotting off the mat, she embraced several coaches and teammates, celebrating the moment.
“I feel like on beam I was really excited when I landed it and made it,” she said. “I’m still really upset about floor. But I did end on a good note so that makes me happy.”
That “good” note for Biles, so understated in her own words, was unprecedented in the sport: two skills that had never been completed in competition in women’s gymnastics before.
Biles’ motivation heading into the final on Sunday?
To make them even better.
Said Biles: “I feel like I compete for perfection.”