Gymnastics-Biles eyes ninth all-around title at U.S. championships

FILE PHOTO: Simone Biles runs through a portion of her beam routine during the second day of a two-day media event with the USA Gymnastics team ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Katy, Texas, U.S. February 5, 2024. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal/File Photo

(Reuters) - Simone Biles enters this weekend's U.S. Gymnastics Championships as the favorite to claim yet another all-around title as the sport's most dominant force continues to build momentum ahead of the Paris Olympics.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist is gunning for a record-extending ninth U.S. title at the competition after last year's triumph saw her break a tie with Alfred Jochim, a two-time silver medalist at the 1932 Games.

Biles is looking to make her third Olympic appearance and further distance herself from the Tokyo Games in 2021, when she dropped out of several events due to "the twisties," a type of mental block where gymnasts are disoriented mid-air.

That led to a two-year hiatus but since returning to competition last August the 27-year-old has been masterful, her most recent victory coming in the form of an all-around title at the U.S. Classic earlier this month.

Joining Biles at the competition in Fort Worth, Texas is Tokyo all-around champion Sunisa Lee.

The 21-year-old says she has recovered from the two kidney diseases she endured after her Olympic breakthrough, which caused her face, fingers and legs to swell and threatened to derail her career.

Jade Carey, the Tokyo floor gold medalist, is the third and final Olympic champion at the competition after London 2012 all-around champion Gabby Douglas withdrew on Wednesday with an ankle injury, ending her bid to make the team for Paris.

Also in the mix is team silver medalist Jordan Chiles, who famously stepped in for Biles in Tokyo, and two-time world all-around medalist Shilese Jones.

The U.S. Gymnastics Championships are the final stop before the 2024 Olympic Team Trials in late June in Minneapolis, where the five-person squad for Paris will be named.

The women's portion of the competition begins on Friday and concludes Sunday.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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