2024 U.S. Classic: Who made a case for the Olympic team?

Olympics

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HARTFORD, Conn. — The best gymnasts in the country competed at the U.S. Classic on Saturday night at the XL Center, giving an early look at who has the best chance to make the roster for the five-member Olympic team headed for Paris in July.

It was a night blemished by injuries and falls, with Konnor McClain suffering an Achilles’ injury during floor warmups and Gabby Douglas withdrawing from the competition after recording two falls during her opening rotation on bars. But there still were several bright spots. Simone Biles won the all-around title and floor, and finished second on bars and beam, and a number of other gymnasts made solid cases for their spot on the Olympic team.

So, with two major competitions left to go — the U.S. gymnastics championships and the Olympic trials — who has the best chance at this point at booking their ticket to Paris? Here’s our look so far, based solely on Saturday’s competition.


Tier 1: Simone Biles

She’s the GOAT for a reason and Biles, 27, proved that yet again with a memorable showing on Saturday. Competing for the first time in 2024, Biles was strong on all four events and finished with a 1.85 point edge over second-place Shilese Jones in the all-around standings. In typical Biles fashion, her high degree of difficulty and high-flying skills (some even named after her) were on full display all night. She showed her triple-twisting double back on floor for the first time since 2021, and her Yurchenko double pike on vault earned the highest score of the night on any event with a 15.600.

Biles looks like a lock for her third Olympic team.


Tier 2: The top favorite not named Simone Biles

While Biles is in a category all her own, Shilese Jones is as well, and has continued to further the distance between herself and the rest of the field. On Saturday, thanks in part to her astounding 15.250-scoring bar routine, Jones held the all-around lead at the meet’s halfway mark and looked to be giving Biles a run for her money. While she couldn’t maintain her lead, she finished more than two points ahead of Jordan Chiles, who earned the bronze, and everyone else. She also won the bars title and finished in a tie for second on floor. As a six-time world medalist, Jones has already made a name for herself on the global stage and she proved again that she’s one of the best currently competing.

“I’m more confident in myself,” Jones said after the meet, about how her mentality has changed throughout the quad leading up to the Olympics. “I’ve grown a little bit, gotten older at the same time, moved back home and I’m just striving and building confidence each competition. Before I was the underdog; I feel like [now] I’m just showing to the world and proving myself.”


Tier 3: The other favorites

Jordan Chiles: A fan favorite and member of the silver-medal-winning team in Tokyo, the 23-year-old reminded everyone of why she was such a key part of the last Olympic run with a strong performance. Chiles — who was left off of the worlds team in the fall — was the picture of consistency on Saturday when many others struggled with nerves. And she saved the best for her last routine of the night on bars, where she earned a 14.300 — good enough for a tie for third place.

Jade Carey: The 2020 Olympic champion on floor has had mixed results at the elite level over the past year, but looked much like her previous form on Saturday. With the exception of a fall on bars, Carey finished on the podium on all three other events and won the vault title. Her 54.400 final score was good enough for fourth place in the all around.

“I feel like every day I’m getting a little bit better, making another step towards where I want to be in the end,” Carey told ESPN on Saturday after the meet. “I would say I’m on the right track to peak at the right time.”

Skye Blakely: A member of the previous two gold-medal-clinching world teams, the 19-year-old was already in the mix for Paris, but an impressive outing on all four events in Hartford only strengthened her argument. Finishing in second place on vault, Blakely didn’t score lower than a 13.200 on any event and it resulted in a top-five all-around finish.

Suni Lee: After making her return to competition last month following a career-threatening kidney disease diagnosis, the Tokyo all-around gold medalist competed on just three events on Saturday, but she made them count. Lee was solid on vault and floor and won the beam title with a nearly flawless 14.600 performance in her final rotation of the night. Opting to skip bars — her signature event — Lee said afterwards that she expects to compete on the apparatus at the U.S. championships.

“[My plan is to do] the all-around because we’re getting to the end,” Lee said on Saturday. “It’s just important for me to get out there and compete bars and beam, everything all at once, and to train my body to be able to last for the rest of the season.”

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