Simone Biles to lead American gymnasts in Tokyo

If the Olympic gymnastics trials in the United States have proven anything, it’s that the arena ceiling at the Tokyo Games had better be high. There will be quick flips and tornado-like twists that need as much air as possible.

Gymnasts will launch their most daring routines in an attempt to win a gold medal, and the margin for error will be narrow – even narrower than the 4 inch beam that many gymnasts already find precarious. A slip. An additional step on a landing. A case. Seemingly tiny mistakes could make the difference between qualifying for a final or winning a medal in each event.

Of course, Simone Biles has a much bigger cushion. Her routines are so complex and challenging that she can win even with big mistakes. She is the most decorated gymnast in the world, already with four Olympic gold medals and 25 world championship medals, and it’s a safe bet that she will have to make room for more. At 24, she could walk away from the Tokyo Games, possibly her last big event before retiring at the top of her sport, with five more gold medals.

The ultimate mic drop.

Sunisa Lee and Simone Biles, above, are the top two gymnasts on the world’s best gymnastics team, the one that will most likely dominate the Tokyo Games. The women of the United States are looking to win a third consecutive Olympic gold medal for their team and are the big favorites to do so.

Three years ago, Jordan Chiles almost quit gymnastics, frustrated at not making teams for the world championships and exhausted after years under the guidance of a coach she said abused her. And then Chiles, above, started training with Biles and changed his career.

Chiles, Biles, Lee and Grace McCallum will compete for the team gold medal for the United States. Two other gymnasts, Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner, have been named to the Olympic team as individual competitors who will serve as event specialists.

The US men’s team has finished fifth at the last two Olympics and it will be a challenge for them to find a way to reach the medal podium in the team event this time around. But they will try, and they will be fun to watch. Their team cheerleader is Yul Moldauer, below, the hyped man on the team whose enthusiastic celebrations punctuate his high-flying gymnastics.

Inspirational men’s team veteran is three-time Olympian Sam Mikulak, above, a six-time national champion who is retiring this year.

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