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Simone Biles Set a New Standard. Can U.S.A. Gymnastics Do the Same?


Leung has made it a point to be present and out in the open, doing her part, it seems, to contribute to the last pillar. She was out on the competition floor hugging and cheering the athletes over the weekend, and she said she had spoken with more than 400 athletes, coaches and gymnastics club owners during her five-month tenure.

Another positive, Leung said, was the record attendance at the championships. A crowd of about 12,000 watched the women’s competition Sunday.

“We are starting to rebuild trust in our community in terms of taking part in our events,” Leung said.

The more likely explanation was that the crowd had come primarily to see Biles; the attendance at the women’s competition was nearly double that for the men.

In addition to Biles, the crowd got to see the next generation of gymnasts start to make their next steps toward qualifying for the Olympics. Biles was the only member of the 2016 Olympic team competing in Kansas City.

Lee, 16, dazzled with elegant routines throughout the weekend. Behind her were Grace McCallum, 16, and Morgan Hurd, 18. Although not a top contender in the all-around, Jade Carey, 19, showcased her power in the vault and the floor exercise, finishing second only to Biles in each event. Riley McCusker, 18, a bronze medalist last year, scratched from the competition because of an illness.

Biles, though, appears to be in even better shape than she was in 2016, when she won the all-around competition, even if her perfectionist tendencies showed through even in victory. Biles said she still felt as if she had work to do. She was angry with her routines on the first day of competition on Friday, when she wasn’t able to control the landing on the triple-double and touched both hands down at the end of the move. She rebounded on Sunday, completing the move with only a slight hop backward.


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