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U.S. women have core experience, but questions remain for gymnastics selection committee – Twin Cities

Less than a month before the start of the 2024 Summer Olympics, injuries have become a deciding factor in the selection of the U.S. gymnasts, whose official decision will be made late Sunday evening at the Target Center.

After the first day of trials, superstar Simone Biles led the all-around competition that will determine the only automatic qualifier for the five-woman team traveling to Paris next month. Champions Centre teammate Jordan Chiles was second and Sunisa Lee of St. Paul was third heading into the final day of competition on Sunday.

That’s a strong core for an Olympic team. All were teammates in Tokyo in 2020, and Lee won gold in the all-around while the U.S. team took silver.

Biles withdrew from three of four individual events after winning the bronze medal on balance beam to address her mental health, but has since mowed down the competition. Her medals include the all-around at the 2023 World Championships and the all-around at the 2023 and 2024 U.S. Championships.

The U.S. is sending five gymnasts to Paris, and while the Trials may play the biggest role in determining the other four, the U.S. will select the team it believes has the best chance of a medal after winning team silver in Tokyo.

Two strong contenders for the team appear to be out after injuries this week in Minneapolis. Skye Blakely wore a cast and used crutches Friday after tearing an Achilles tendon during practice on Wednesday. And on Friday, Kayla DiCello, who finished third in the all-around at the U.S. Championships this spring, tore her Achilles tendon after landing awkwardly on a vault.

And then there is Shilese Jones, the rising star of US women’s gymnastics

Jones, 21, competed in the all-around at the 2023 World Championships and won bronze on uneven bars. At the U.S. Championships, she won gold on parallel bars, bronze on floor and finished second in the all-around behind Biles.

But Jones injured herself during warm-ups on Friday night and withdrew from the competition after scoring a strong 14.675 on parallel bars. It’s unclear if she will attempt to compete after a rest day on Sunday, but even if she doesn’t, and depending on the severity of the injury, the selection committee could still include her on the team.

Lee, 21, is returning after a long hiatus caused by a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. She was diagnosed in 2023, but it was not until this year that she resumed elite competition, placing first on balance beam in two events before winning silver on balance beam at the U.S. Championships and placing fourth in the all-around.

Her resume will play a big role in her attempt to make the Olympic team, but her good performance on Sunday should give the selection committee confidence that she is still on the road to a comeback.

On Friday, she achieved her best score of the evening on the balance beam with 14.400 points and her 14.400 points on the parallel bars were the third best score of the evening.

Jade Carey, who won gold in Tokyo after qualifying separately on floor exercise, was fourth in the all-around after Friday’s rotations. She had the second-best vault (14.600) behind Biles’ near-perfect 15.975 and finished fourth on floor exercise (14.075).

Chiles’ vault of 14.325 moved her past Lee into second place late Friday. On floor, she scored 14.100, both of which were the third-best scores of the night in those events. Her Olympic experience will also be taken into account, as she won silver on uneven bars at the U.S. Championships.

However, she said that experience can only take you so far in the trials.

“It’s still stressful,” Chiles said after Friday’s competition. “I was literally thinking this morning that no matter what I’ve done in my life, this is the most stressful competition I’ve done in my entire career. Because this is where you find out if you’re going to make it or not.”

The team will be announced approximately 30 minutes after the competition on Sunday, which is scheduled for 7-10 p.m.

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