The U.S. Gymnastics Trials were headlined by the usual stars, but a handful of other gymnasts forced their way into the conversation. Simone Biles remains the star of Team USA, while young stars Suni Lee, Brody Malone and more will be making their Olympic debuts in Tokyo.
Here’s a look at what happened during the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, which took place from June 24-27 in St. Louis.
Simone Biles tops all-around scoreboard, could be holding back for Olympics
Despite taking a more conservative approach at the trials, Biles still walked away with the top all-around score (118.098). She had a small hiccup on the uneven bars and then fell on her beam routine, but she still easily qualified due to the difficulty of her routines and other strong performances. The 24-year-old had an impressive vault to open the final night and then concluded with a masterful floor routine:
Biles enters the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the heavy favorite to add to her medal count. She won four golds and one bronze in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Based on some of her performances at events before the trials, it appeared as though Biles was saving some of her best stuff for the Olympics.
Brody Malone has breakout performance with top all-around score
Malone qualified for his first Olympics after a dazzling display in St. Louis. The 21-year-old earned the first automatic berth on the men’s team with an all-around total score of 171.600. His performance on the rings was especially strong on Saturday:
Now, with an Olympic bid in hand, Malone is established as one of the leaders of the men’s program. He helped Stanford win the NCAA team title back in April and followed that up with an all-around title at the 2021 U.S. National Gymnastics Championships.
Suni Lee clinches second automatic bid with strong final day
Lee continued her rapid ascension with her excellent showing at the trials. She placed second overall with an all-around score of 115.832. Just 18 years old, Lee scored a 14.733 on the balance beam both nights and then shined on the uneven bars during the final night:
Less than five months after her 18th birthday, Lee will head to Tokyo for her first Olympics. The Minnesota native won silver at the 2021 U.S. National Gymnastics Championships early this month in individual all-around, finishing just behind Biles. She signed her national letter of intent to compete for Auburn University last November.
Sam Mikulak qualifies for historic third Olympics
Gymnastics is often a sport dominated by younger athletes. With the amount of strain it puts on the body, there typically aren’t many gymnasts who compete at a high level into their late 20s. Mikulak is an exception to the rule, as the 28-year-old qualified for his third Olympics after the selection committee’s decision. Just 10 other Americans have competed in three or more Olympic Games.
Mikulak had a strong performance at the trials, placing fourth overall after earning the top overall score on night two. He had a masterful showing on the high bar and posted the top overall score on the floor. The only active American male gymnast with Olympic experience entering this summer’s Games, Mikulak will retire following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Jordan Chiles earns Olympic berth behind stellar beam dismount
Chiles placed third all-around before Biles and Lee, but was added to the team by the selection committee in a no-brainer decision. Chiles and Lee were separated by just 1.201 points over the two days. On Sunday, the 20-year-old Chiles was solid across the board with no blunders. The highlight of her night was her balance beam performance and this dismount:
Chiles moved to Texas over two years ago so she could attend the same gym as Biles. The two will now head to Tokyo together to compete for the United States.
Alec Yoder qualifies for first Olympics, years after shoulder injury
The fifth and final spot on the men’s team went to Yoder after two stellar pommel horse routines. Yoder will serve in the individual spot, a new position for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He will compete in the pommel horse and potentially other events in Tokyo.
Yoder, 24, qualified for his first Olympics after he was forced to sit out due to a shoulder injury in 2016. He suffered the injury in the Big Ten Championship meet during his freshman year at Ohio State. Five years later, Yoder will have a chance to compete on the world’s biggest stage.
Other athletes who made the 2020 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team
Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus were the other two men to make the squad. Moldauer, 24, automatically qualified by scoring the second-highest score all-around (168.600) and finishing top three on at least three apparatuses. Wiskus, along with Mikulak, qualified thanks to the selection committee. The 22-year-old entered the final day second all-around, but fell to third at 168.150 following Moldauer’s strong showing.
Grace McCallum, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey were the other three women to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. McCallum, 18, was the final team selection by the committee. She placed fourth in the all-around score (112.564). Skinner, 24, is the oldest woman to make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team since 2004. She was an alternate at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and will compete as an individual after placing fifth in the all-around score (112.264). Carey, 21, is another first-time Olympian who will compete as an individual.
Alternate athletes were selected for the men’s and women’s teams in the event of injury, illness or other circumstances. The men’s alternates are Cameron Bock, Allan Bower, Brandon Briones, Alex Diab and Akash Modi. The women’s alternates are Kayla DiCello, Kara Eaker, Emma Malabuyo and Leanne Wong.