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Simone Biles, U.S. gymnastics stars compete this week for world championships spots

Simone Biles

August 27, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Simone Biles practices her routine during the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The next step of Simone Biles’ already successful return to gymnastics comes Tuesday and Wednesday. Biles headlines a meet to determine the U.S. roster for the world championships.

The winner of Tuesday’s all-around competition in Katy, Texas, earns the first of six spots on the team (one will later be designated an alternate) for worlds in Antwerp, Belgium, from Oct. 1-8.

Biles performed last month for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, and in three all-around competitions posted the world’s three best scores over the last two years, according to the Gymternet.

If Biles is a massive favorite to earn the first spot on the world team, the intrigue this week focuses on the rest of the roster.

After Tuesday’s all-around winner, a committee selects the rest of the team. It will be named after Wednesday’s final day of competition, where each athlete does at least one routine.

The discretionary picks will be based on performances throughout this year and made to field a roster with the best team and individual medal potential at worlds.

Shilese Jones made a pretty convincing case at last month’s nationals, placing second to Biles on both days in her first competition this year. Jones, the 2022 World all-around silver medalist, returned from a torn labrum in her shoulder from February, plus a less serious ankle injury.

Leanne Wong and Skye Blakely, two more 2022 World team members, traded third- and fourth-place all-around finishes at the two-day nationals.

When combining both days’ results, they distanced the fifth-place finisher, Olympic silver medalist Jordan Chiles, by three points. Chiles had an abbreviated, one-month run-up of training leading into nationals.

Wong, Chiles and Tokyo Olympic floor exercise gold medalist Jade Carey (15th at nationals dealing with an arm injury) are all trying to make a second consecutive world team coming off NCAA seasons that ran from January into April.

Even with Tokyo all-around gold medalist Suni Lee sidelined, it’s possible that the final, five-woman team for worlds will include zero rookies. That last happened in 1993 (when the world team was three women for individual events only).

The highest-scoring newcomers this summer are women whose values may be on one or two apparatuses.

Kaliya Lincoln and Joscelyn Roberson, both 17, earned runner-up finishes at nationals on floor exercise and vault, respectively. Zoe Miller, also 17, tied for second on uneven bars on the second day of nationals.