Simone Biles Launches Into the History Books

She becomes first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike vault at international meet
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2023 3:59 AM CDT

Simone Biles made a remarkable return to international competition at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships on Sunday, becoming the first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike vault at an international meet. In her first international competition since the Tokyo Olympics, an event she withdrew from in 2021, the 19-time world champion stunned with what will now be known as the Biles II vault. CNN helpfully describes it as "a roundoff onto the springboard, followed by a back handspring onto the vaulting table, ending with a piked double backflip into the air to landing." The Athletic notes it's "the hardest vault being done in women's gymnastics right now." The 26-year-old Biles took a step back upon hitting the mat before celebrating with coaches in Antwerp, Belgium.

She had more than one reason to celebrate. Biles, who will compete for a sixth world all-around title on Friday, ended her qualifying round with a top all-around score of 58.865, the highest score of this Olympic cycle, per the Guardian. She placed first on vault, floor, and balance beam, and second on the uneven bars. It was an impressive showing even after Biles' dominating performance in the US Classic in August, quickly followed by a record eighth US championship. "I feel really good about where I am right now, mentally and physically," she said at the US Classic. That was quite a change from Tokyo, where Biles withdrew from competition after losing her bearings while twisting in the air. The Biles II vault is actually the fifth gymnastics element named after Biles and the second vault element. Time has an explainer on the four other moves. (More Simone Biles stories.)

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