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U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team sets out for its ‘redemption tour’

In past Olympics, the U.S. women’s gymnastics roster included athletes who seemed destined to make the team throughout the four-year cycle.

That was not the case this time.

Simone Biles went two years without competing after the Tokyo Olympics.

Last year, Suni Lee was told by a doctor that she probably wouldn’t be able to do gymnastics again due to two kidney diseases.


Fellow Tokyo Olympians Jordan Chiles and Jade Carey competed throughout this Olympic cycle, but both were beaten out for spots on the 2023 World Championships team by younger gymnasts.

Hezly Rivera was in the junior division last year. She began the run-up to the Olympic Trials by placing 24th at the Core Hydration Classic last month.

Yet Biles, Lee, Chiles, Carey and Rivera make up the team for the Paris Games. That lineup wouldn’t have been predicted before injuries took out three contenders over a three-day stretch last week.

Skye Blakely, the 2024 U.S. all-around silver medalist, ruptured her right Achilles in training Wednesday.

Shilese Jones, a 2022 and 2023 World all-around medalist, injured her left leg on a vault Friday before competition began.

Kayla DiCello, the 2021 World all-around bronze medalist, ruptured an Achilles on her opening vault Friday.

That left 13 gymnasts to perform over two days of all-around competition on Friday and Sunday in Minneapolis.

Biles continued her excellent comeback by winning the trials by 5.55 points, which was greater than the margin separating runner-up Lee from ninth place.

She extended her all-around win streak to 30 consecutive meets dating to 2013. Biles has the world’s top handful of all-around scores in this Olympic cycle, according to the Gymternet.

At 27, she will be the oldest U.S. Olympic female gymnast since 1952.

“I never pictured going to another Olympic Games after Tokyo just because of the circumstances,” said Biles, who dealt with the twisties at the last Olympics. “I never thought I would go back in the gym again, be twisting, feel free.”

Biles wins Trials all-around for 3rd Olympic berth
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles finished the U.S. Gymnastics Trials with 117.225 points, 5.55-points ahead of second-place finisher Suni Lee, to win the all-around title and clinch her spot in Paris.

Lee, the Tokyo Olympic all-around champ, was sidelined for a few months in early 2023 and ultimately diagnosed with two kidney diseases.

She has been in remission since late last year and returned to all-around competition at the Xfinity U.S. Championships four weeks ago.

“I’m so, so glad that I never gave up,” she said. “There were so many times where I thought about just quitting and just kind of walking away from the sport because I didn’t think that I would ever get to this point.”

Chiles was a revelation in 2021. She made the Tokyo Olympic team with neither senior world championships experience nor a top-three finish in a U.S. junior all-around.

She backed it up in 2022 with three medals at the world championships. That impressively came after a full freshman season at UCLA. Rarely has a woman so successfully flipped back and forth between college and elite gymnastics.

In 2023, Chiles took a break after her sophomore season at UCLA and had an abbreviated, month-long run-up to summer elite meets. She was fifth at the 2023 U.S. Championships and ninth at a world championships team selection camp. She did not make the world team.

“This moment, it felt so far away, but it felt so close,” Chiles said Sunday night. “I felt like in times and weeks, I could just grasp it and be like, oh my gosh, I’m almost there. And then other times, I’m just like, I feel like this is 150 years away.”

Similarly, Carey matriculated at Oregon State after winning the Tokyo Olympic floor exercise title.

She also won three medals at the 2022 Worlds. She also didn’t make the 2023 World team (after placing 15th at nationals).

Yet at Olympic Trials, Carey had her two best days of all-around in two years to finish fourth.

“This is the most stressful meet I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” she said. “Just those past experiences really helped me, reminded me of why I’m doing this sport and where I want to go.”

Though Rivera is an outlier on this team — at 16, the only woman not in her 20s — she continues a tradition in U.S. women’s gymnastics.

From 1980 through 2016, every Olympic team included at least one woman who turned 16 (or younger) in the Olympic year. That streak was snapped in Tokyo.

Rivera, the 2023 U.S. junior all-around champion, joined the mix for this team by placing sixth at her senior nationals debut four weeks ago.

As things stand, she would be the youngest U.S. Olympian in Paris across all sports.

“2028 was the goal,” Rivera said.

Both Biles and Lee referred to Paris as “a redemption tour” after the U.S. took team silver in 2021 following golds in 2012 and 2016.

“I feel like we all have more to give, and our Tokyo performances weren’t the best,” Biles said. “We weren’t under the best circumstances, either. But I feel like we have a lot of weight on our shoulders to go out there and prove that we’re better athletes. We’re more mature. We’re smarter. We’re more consistent.”

Rivera gets final spot on women's gymnastics team
Hezly Rivera is headed to the Olympic Games as the youngest member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team in Paris after her performance at Trials.