Simone Biles continues to improve every time she competes, and is way ahead of…

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Simone Biles continues to improve every time she competes, and is way ahead of…

Since the world first learned its name, Simone Biles every time she competes, she leaps forward (a little pun intended) for the field – and yet the greatest gymnast of all time continues to improve.

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Biles set her best floor routine of the season — so far — on Friday night, the first day of women’s competition at the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials.

That’s saying something when you consider that she had the highest scores for floor exercises at both the US Classic in May and the US Championships earlier this month.

In an exciting feat with two eponymous skills, the five-time world floor champion scored 15,366 points; that’s 0.416 higher than her previous highest floor score this season and a whopping 1,116 points more than her US Classic floor score. The routine had a difficulty of 6.8, an astonishing number, and Biles managed to stay within bounds the entire time – something that proved challenging in national competitions, due to her size and strength.

“I feel like I’ll remember staying within limits [on floor], get all my credit on the line, and just be here with three of my… [World Champions Centre gym] teammates,” Biles told NBC reporter report Andrea Joyce. “It’s been a blast.”

GYMNASTICS TASTING: Results | TV Guide | Men Prsee | Example ladies

Unsurprisingly, Biles leads the St. Louis halfway through the competition with an overall score of 60,656 points. She is 2,899 points ahead of second place Suni Lee (57,666).

For context on how much Biles has improved since 2016 — when she thought she was at her peak — her two-night overall win of Olympic Trials that year was just 2.1 points over Laurie Hernandez.

Biles also had the night’s highest scores on balance beam (15,133), including her Biles dismount and jump (15,466).

The five-time Olympic medalist (four being gold) still has room for more difficulty and higher scores. She didn’t run the Biles vault, nor what is expected to be called the Biles II – a Yurchenko double pike that she premiered at US Classic.

Lee had the best score of the night with uneven bars – 0.4 for Biles – and would have to compete for the gold medal for the Olympic bars.

NBC Commentator and Olympic Medalist Tim Daggett called her performance “the hardest bar routine, I believe, done in the world today.”

WHAT A ROUTINE! Give it up for Suni Lee#GymTrials21 X #Olympic Games in Tokyo


— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 26, 2021

In a tight race for minimum Olympic spots where just 0.834 points separate third through sixth, Biles’ teammate and close friend has Jordan Chiles is in third place with 57,132 points.

My Kayla Skinner (56,598), Grace McCallum (56,498) and Kayla DiCello (56,598) follow.

the men’s competition, currently led by Brody Malone, ends on Saturday and the women on Sunday.

The two best women’s all-around women qualify for the Olympic team. A selection committee then chooses two others to join them; the team size in Tokyo is four – the smallest yet. The US will also send two individual athletes who can compete on all devices for qualifying purposes, but their scores will not count towards the team event.

ON HER TURF: Why Biles is the GOAT?

Biles and Lee finished 1-2 at both the 2019 and 2021 US Championships and are poised to repeat that which would earn them the automatic places.

Chiles has been a consistent frontrunner for the team all season, winning the Winter Cup, finishing second at US Classic and third at US Championships (where she was in the top four in all events).

The fourth place is more interesting.

Emma Malabuyo emerged as a favorite after jumping to a surprising fourth place in the Nationals two and a half weeks ago, but she is currently ranked ninth in St. Louis.

Skinner, an alternate to the 2016 Olympic team, steadily increasing her chances of a real Olympic debut. She left the elite ranks after Rio to collegiately compete for Utah for three seasons.

After initially planning to return as a specialist (she had the second highest jump score of the night for Biles), the 24-year-old has been improving in all events.

Skinner was ninth in Nationals, but is fourth in Trials so far; she retained third place through the first three rotations.

Yes, we would be very excited about that routine too @mykaylaskinner! 🥳@USAGym | #GymTrials21 X #Olympic Games in Tokyo


— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 26, 2021

“It was the best encounter of her entire life,” 2008 Olympic all-around champion and NBC commentator Nastia Liukin said.

Two-time Olympic medalist Hernandez added: “This is her second Olympic Trials, it’s really interesting to see her come back, and honestly I think she’s even better than she was in 2016.”

In this year’s Olympic team final, three athletes will compete on each piece of equipment and all three scores will count. Therefore, the four-man team is likely to include the best all-rounders in the US.

While there are still questions to round out the team, the rest of the Olympic picture became much clearer.

Jade Carey had locked in an individual spot – by name – through the World Cup series. She still had the opportunity to compete for the four-man team, but if she made that team, the US would lose her individual spot.

After initial scratching from the floor on day 1, Carey competed all-around but is in 14th of 16 all-around athletes. She had the second best jump score of the night (15.2).

It is now all but confirmed that Carey can no longer finish in the top two and not be selected for the team, so she will accept and fill the spot she has earned.

The remaining individual spot goes to a gymnast who has medal potential in at least one event.

Riley McCusker looks like the best candidate so far as she had the second highest score on uneven bars, behind Lee and ahead of Biles.

.@mccusker_riley with a BEAUTIFUL routine! 🤩#GymTrials21 X #Olympic Games in Tokyo


— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 26, 2021

McCallum, fifth in the all-around, was second on floor and should also be considered.

Aside from McCusker and McCallum (and Carey), the top three finishers in all four events account for the current top four in the all-around.

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