Gabby Douglas falters, Simone Biles shines at Olympic qualifying event


Three-time Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas hoped to use the U.S. Classic, a key Olympic qualifying event, on Saturday as a springboard to secure her spot in the team heading to Paris this summer.

However, the 2012 Olympic all-around and team champion struggled on the uneven bars – falling twice – before she withdrew from the rest of the remaining events. The withdrawal means the 28-year-old will fail to qualify for the all-around at the U.S. Championships set to begin May 30.

US Classic Gymnastics Gabby Douglas competes on the uneven bars during the U.S. Classic gymnastics event Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Hartford, Conn.

Bryan Woolston / AP

Douglas, who had taken time away from the sport, returned to training last year hoping to make the squad for Paris. The Olympic trials are set to start at the end of June.

Meanwhile, superstar Simone Biles looks ready for Paris. At Saturday’s event, the 27-year-old 2016 Olympic champion posted an all-around score of 59.500, nearly two points clear of runner-up Shilese Jones.

Biles also recorded the highest score on vault and floor exercise and came in second on uneven bars and balance beam.

“I was just happy to be back out there, get through those nerves again, feel that adrenaline,” Biles said. “I can’t really complain how the first meet back was.”

She did a handful of her signature skills, including hitting the Yurchenko double pike on vault and a tumbling pass that ended with a triple-twisting double-flip.

US Classic Gymnastics Simone Biles prepares to compete on the balance beam during the U.S. Classic gymnastics event Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Hartford, Conn.

Bryan Woolston / AP

Biles completed the vault — which requires her to clasp her hands to her knees while she flips backward twice — with coach Laurent Landi watching from the side. Landi had been standing on the podium to spot Biles during previous attempts, a decision that cost her a half-point neutral deduction.

While Biles wasn’t perfect — she took a couple of big steps back on her vault dismount and got so much air on the triple-double that she landed out of bounds — her mixture of difficulty and precision remains the standard in the sport.

Biles is a virtual lock to make the five-woman U.S. Olympic team should she stay healthy. The big question that needs to be answered over the next six weeks is who will join her in France.

Jones was brilliant on bars and steady everywhere else. Sunisa Lee, who won the Olympic title at the 2020 games in Tokyo, has been battling kidney issues for the last 18 months that have made training difficult. She competed in three events and her elegant beam routine earned her a 14.600, a touch ahead of the 14.550 put up by Biles.

US Classic Gymnastics Jordan Chiles competes in the floor exercise during the U.S. Classic gymnastics event Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Hartford, Conn.

Bryan Woolston / AP

Jordan Chiles, a 2020 Olympic silver medalist, came in third in the all-around at 55.450. Jade Carey, who captured gold on floor in Tokyo, was fourth.

Konnor McClain, the 2022 U.S. champion, exited the competition with an Achilles injury suffered while warming up on floor exercise.