Simone Biles, her name sparkling, extends 6-year win streak

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Simone Biles has long stood out for her gymnastics, but on Saturday she competed with her last name sparkling in silver beads on her World Champions Centre leotard for the first time. The gym’s other athletes had “WCC” on the back.

Biles lived up to the billing, extending her six-year win streak to 19 straight all-arounds, capturing the U.S. Classic, a tune-up for next month’s U.S. Championships.

Biles, the four-time Rio Olympic champion, scored 60 points in Louisville at the meet where she made her comeback last year after nearly two years off from competition. She prevailed by a comfortable 2.1 points over Riley McCusker, her largest margin of victory of her four U.S. Classic titles.

“I’m very satisfied,” she said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “I’m a little sad that I went out of bounds on floor [exercise], but overall I feel like there are improvements to be made.”

Full results are here.

Biles is prepping for nationals in Kansas City in three weeks, when she eyes a sixth U.S. all-around title to tie Clara Schroth Lomady‘s record from the AAU era in the 1940s and ’50s.

Then come the world championships in October in Stuttgart, Germany. Biles could win a fifth all-around to move one shy of Kohei Uchimura‘s record.

The world’s other top gymnasts may be her countrywomen.

Biles was outscored on balance beam on Saturday by 2018 World teammates Kara Eaker and McCusker and beaten on uneven bars by 2017 World all-around champion Morgan HurdSunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and McCusker. Biles swept all the gold medals at last year’s nationals.

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Simone Biles, delaying adulting, surprises herself going into U.S. Classic

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Simone Biles, at 22, is not only by far the world’s best gymnast, but she is also probably the only homeowner competing at Saturday’s U.S. Classic, a tune-up for next month’s U.S. Championships.

With age comes responsibility. Biles, who turned professional in 2015, knows this well. The other day, one of her coaches, Laurent Landi, reminded Biles that gymnastics is her job.

“It’s still my hobby!” Biles said, recounting the story. “Don’t tell me that. It’s scary.

“I’m going to try to push off adulting as much as I can.”

Biles plans to compete in all four events on Saturday (7 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA), aiming to extend an unbeaten all-around streak since then-coach Aimee Boorman pulled her struggling pupil out of this meet in 2013.

The U.S.’ other headliners are in Louisville, including Morgan Hurd, who won the 2017 World all-around title during Biles’ one-year break. Plus the rest of the competing members of the 2018 World title team.

Biles, who won last year’s world all-around by a record margin despite balance beam and vault falls, is prepared to increase her already unmatched difficulty.

She performed a triple twisting double tuck somersault in floor exercise training, which no woman has done in major competition, but said she will not throw it on Saturday night. She also has an upgraded balance beam dismount, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Biles averaged nearly seven tenths more difficulty per apparatus than the next-highest gymnast in the 2018 World all-around final. She still surprises herself in raising her own standard.

“[Coaches] ask me to push past my boundaries that I already thought I exceeded before,” she said. “I just look at them like you guys are crazy. Then I do it, and I’m like, OK, maybe I’m the crazy one.”

She could wonder if the risk to her execution score is worth adding the difficulty of extra flips and twists when she’s already so far ahead. She doesn’t.

“Every year you should try to be better than you were the year before,” Biles said. “So it doesn’t matter how far ahead I am. I should try to better my gymnastics and myself.

“If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have been like, there’s no way I’ll upgrade from this, and now I’m continuing to upgrade. I’m just like, geez, how much more can I do?”

It’s a less finite answer now that Biles is leaving the door open to competing beyond the Tokyo Games. She said in 2017, in returning to training, that she expected to retire after the 2020 Olympics. Now?

“I’m just trying to get through 2020 first, and then we will see where it goes,” she said, according to the Chronicle.

Biles is finding ways to stay fresh, taking personal days from the gym, even napping, something she used to kid Aly Raisman for doing. Biles and other gymnasts jokingly called Raisman “grandma” in the last Olympic cycle. Raisman was 22 in Rio. Biles turns 23 in 2020.

“I feel like I rot more than I did before,” said Biles, in line to become the oldest U.S. Olympic female gymnast since 2004. “I can’t waste one ounce of energy. … My friends are like, let’s go to lunch. I’m like, is it going to be quick?”

NBC Olympics researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report from Louisville.

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Laurie Hernandez: My focus is next year

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Laurie Hernandez will not return to gymnastics competition this summer for the first time since the Rio Olympics, as she had hoped.

Hernandez, who said last August that she wanted to compete in 2019 but needed to find a coach and a gym first, did not enter Saturday’s U.S. Classic, a meet required for her to be eligible for the national championships in August.

“We want to go out there when we’re completely ready,” Hernandez said last month while promoting Alcon’s “Eye Can, Eye Will” campaign, when she said she had not yet decided on whether to compete this summer. “Our focus is definitely early next year.”

USA Gymnastics rules dictate that any gymnast who has not competed in the last two years, nor attended a national team camp, must compete at Saturday’s meet to be eligible for nationals.

Hernandez said she has trained since October at Gym-Max in California, the former gym of 2012 Olympian Kyla Ross. Hernandez trained in her native New Jersey through the Rio Games.

Hernandez repeated over the last year that she’s hoping to join 2016 Olympic champion teammate Simone Biles in a Tokyo 2020 bid. Other Final Five members Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas neither competed since Rio nor shown any signs of a return.

The fifth member of the team, Madison Kocian, retired from elite gymnastics but does compete collegiately for UCLA.

In their absences, Biles continued to stand alone in her comeback last year. Morgan Hurd, the 2017 World all-around champion during Biles’ break, Riley McCusker and Jade Carey have also established themselves as strong candidates for the Olympics.

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