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Simone Biles returns to the global scene after landing a record vault

The 19-time world champion became the first woman to land a complex vault internationally at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastic Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, on Sunday, thrilling fans.

The vault, the women’s scoring code’s hardest jump, was allocated 6.4 points before Sunday’s competition. Last year’s world championships’ hardest vault scored 5.6.

Biles, 26, finished first in qualifying with a 58.865 all-around score. The US team, featuring world all-around silver medalistShilese Jones, 2022 world champions Skye Blakely and Leanne Wong, Joscelyn Roberson, and alternative athlete Kayla DiCello, qualified with 171.395.

In an Instagram story with a blue love emoji, Biles posted footage of her record vault, which surprised national audiences during the summer.

In her first international competition since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Biles returned to the city, where she won her maiden global championship at 16. Since then, she has won eight national crowns, 25 world medals, and seven Olympic medals.

After withdrawing from many Tokyo Olympics competitions due to “twisties,” a spatial disorientation problem prevalent in gymnastics, Biles took a two-year break.

A decade after her first national victory, Biles won a record eighth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in August, indicating she was ready for an international return.

It’s incredible. “Everyone here believes in me,” she remarked. I need to believe in myself more, but it feels fantastic, and I adore the supporters and atmosphere. It was unique.”

As she inspires followers, Biles said she is changing her mat approach.

“I think we have to be a little bit more cautious about how we do things,” she told journalists. “Everything we do before Paris 2024 is intentional. We’ve kept it quiet to ensure emotional and physical health.”

Biles married NFL quarterback Jonathan Owens earlier this year and is focusing on “being intentional, going to therapy, and making sure everything is aligned so that [she] can do [her] best in the gym, be a good wife, daughter, friend, all the good things.”

USA Gymnastics changed its leadership structure last year, distributing directorship to former top gymnasts Chellsie Memmel, Alicia Sacramone Quinn, and veteran coach Dan Baker.

The decision seemed part of an attempt to restructure power dynamics inside the organization and concentrate on players’ well-being after Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years for sexually assaulting hundreds of gymnasts, including Biles.

Biles told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2021 that she did not want “another young gymnast or an Olympic athlete or any individual” to go through what she and others did.

In the women’s team final on Wednesday, Biles and her team are favorites to win gold after their stunning comeback to international competition.

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Written by Jamil Johnson