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Simone Biles, Shilese Jones dominate at USA Gymnastics Core Classic, Gabby Douglas withdraws

Simone Biles added yet another title to her ever-growing list of accolades, this time at Hartford’s XL Center on Saturday, winning the USA Gymnastics Core Hydration Classic all-around for the second consecutive year with a score of 59.500.

After beginning the meet with a crisp performance on balance beam, Biles made a statement on floor exercise by reintroducing the Biles II — a double backflip with a triple twist in tucked position — to her routine. She landed with a bounce that sent her out of bounds, but even with the deduction she received the highest score of the meet, a 14.800. No other floor routine scored above a 14.000.

Jones, the 2023 World all-around bronze medalist, gave Biles a run for her money. She was the only athlete in the competition to receive a score above 15 on the uneven bars with a 15.250.

Jones led the competition through the first two rotations, but Biles pulled ahead after the third thanks to an eye-popping 15.600 score on vault. Jones had the next highest-scoring vault in the competition with a 14.350 and finished the all-around with a score of 57.650. Jordan Chiles, a member of the 2021 Olympic team, finished third scoring a 55.450.

The Core Classic is gymnasts’ final opportunity to post qualifying scores for the 2024 U.S. Gymnastics Championships from May 30-June 2. The championship serves as the final qualifying event for Olympic Trials on June 22.

Sunisa Lee, the 2021 individual Olympic gold medalist, did not compete in the all-around in Hartford. She opted out of uneven bars, her best event, and had clean performances on the other three apparatuses headlined by a 14.500 that earned her first place on the beam. Her combined score of 40.650 hit the three-event standard to qualify for the all-around at the U.S. Championships from May 30-June 2.

Gabby Douglas, who had not competed an all-around since the 2016 Olympic Games, had a rocky start to the meet with two falls in her first rotation on the uneven bars. She finished the routine with enthusiastic support from the XL Center crowd, which chanted her name as she approached the bars as she reapplied chalk to her hands after the second fall. However, she withdrew from the competition after the first rotation and did not compete the rest of the events in the all-around.

Douglas also had a pair of falls on bars at the America Classic in April. The 28-year-old is already qualified for the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in every event except floor exercise, so she can still petition to compete the all-around at the national championship. Had Douglas finished the all-around on Saturday, she would have needed to score a 51 or higher to qualify. That number became a long shot after she received a 10.100 on bars.

LSU freshman Konnor McClain, fresh off helping the Tigers to the 2024 NCAA title, nailed her beam routine to receive the third-highest score of the meet behind Biles and Lee. However, she also withdrew from the competition after her first event with an injury and left the floor using a wheelchair.