Simone Biles soars to early lead at US Championships on best night of comeback

It’s not the skills, otherworldly though they may be, that Simone Biles has displayed so regularly for so long that stand out so much anymore, at least not to the ones who know her best.

The question with the gymnastics superstar – the only question really with a third trip to the Olympics in the offing – isn’t about talent or ability but desire.

She answered that one as best she could over four peerless routines at the US Championships on Friday night, combining staggering difficulty with breathtaking execution to open up a massive lead and put herself on the cusp of a ninth national title.

Biles posted an all-around total 60.450 – the highest in the world during the current Olympic quad – and in some ways looked as good as ever during a reign atop the sport that’s essentially at 11 years and counting.

Yet just as important as what Biles is doing is the way she is doing it. There is a sort of professional lightness to her at the moment, and that has put those around her at ease in a way that was hard to find ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

I really feel like she is happy to be here,” said Biles’ longtime coach, Cecile Landi. “I know she is ready to be done but I think she’s really enjoying it and appreciating every meet she gets to do.”