Gymnastics-Biles takes lead at U.S. Championships with eye on seventh title

FILE PHOTO: Simone Biles of the U.S. in action - Artistic Gymnastics - 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships - Women's Floor Final - Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle, Stuttgart, Germany - October 13, 2019 REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

(Reuters) - Four-time Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles stayed on course for a seventh national title with a superb performance at the U.S. Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday to lead the field with 59.550 points.

The 24-year-old, who landed the Yurchenko double pike vault at the U.S. Classic in Indianapolis last month, kept the move under wraps but did enough to lead Sunisa Lee by 2.2 points overall ahead of Sunday's conclusion.

"Tonight I feel like it was really good, it was definitely better than the Classic," Biles, who is hitting top gear before the Olympic trials in three weeks for the July 23-Aug. 8 Tokyo Games, told NBCSN.

"Floor could have been a little bit better, I need to control my adrenaline."

Biles, who sported a leotard with the outline of a goat on it, posted the highest scores of the night on vault (15.800), floor (14.650) and beam (14.350).

Her 14.750 on the uneven bars, an event in which she took a fall at the U.S. Classic - her first meet since October 2019 - was second to Lee who scored 15.300.

Biles' training partner Jordan Chiles was third overall with a score of 56.900, while Jade Carey and Leanne Wong rounded out the top five.

Double Olympic medalist Laurie Hernandez was forced to pull out of the day's action after suffering a knee injury during a practice routine.

"Hey guys, was doing a dismount during meet warm-ups and hyper-extended my knee," Hernandez tweeted. "Unfortunately we had to pull out of day one, but we're still keeping an open mind about day two and playing it by ear.

"Not the way I thought this would go, but thank you for all the love and support."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)

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