Simone Biles wins a record 8th US Gymnastics title a full decade after her first

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Simone Biles wins a record 8th US Gymnastics title a full decade after her first

A decade later, Simone Biles is still on top.

The gymnastics star won her record eighth U.S. Championship on Sunday night, 10 years after she first ascended to the top of her sport as a teenage prodigy.

Biles, now a 26-year-old newlywed considered perhaps the greatest of all time, posted an all-around two-day total of 118.40, four points clear of runner-up Shilese Jones. Florida junior Leanne Wong claimed third, bolstering her chances of making a third straight world championship team.

Biles is all but assured of returning to the gym where she captured her first world title in 2013. Over the course of two electric nights at the SAP Center, she served notice that even after a two-year break following the Tokyo Olympics, in gymnastics there is the one referred to as the GOAT and there is everyone else.

Biles became the oldest woman to win a national title since USA Gymnastics began organizing the event in 1963. Her eight crowns moved her past Alfred Jochim, who won seven between 1925-33 when the Amateur Athletics Union ran the championships and the events in men’s competition included rope climbing.

Yes, really.

“I don’t think about numbers,” Biles said. “I think about my performance. And I think overall, I hit 8 for 8. I guess it’s a lucky number this year.”

The sport has come a long way over the last century. No one has spent more time at the far end of the Bell curve than Biles, who has spent 10 years using her singular talents to push boundaries in more ways than one.

Peaks aren’t supposed to last this long. Most elite gymnasts at 26 — at least the ones who haven’t retired — are simply hoping to hold on to what they have.

Biles isn’t interested in that. Never has been. She finds repetition boring. She insists this time she’s doing it “for herself” and her markedly different approach to her job offers tangible proof she’s not lying.

Rather than let the world in to her journey as she eyes a third Olympics, she’s kept most of her training under wraps, more interested in sharing glimpses of her life far away from the gym.

“I like to keep (my goals) personal, just so that I know what I’m aiming for,” Biles said. “I think it’s better that way. I’m trying to move a little bit differently this year than I have in the past. I think it’s working so far, so I’m going to keep it secretive.”

There appears to be more balance in her life, leaning into the “it’s just gymnastics” mantra that helped fuel her rise.