Skye Blakely emerges as a strong Olympic possibility after nationals — Other gym news — Thoughts from Simone Biles via GymCastic

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, June 8, 2024

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Since last we met, we have a new U.S. national team, 16 Olympic Trials qualifiers (who happen to be the same people who made the national team), and one brand-new Cheng vault that has turned all of our Olympic team predictions inside out. 

That vault belongs to Skye Blakely. 

Blakely took a big chance on the first day of the meet performing a skill she had never competed before and that she said she had not even landed on a competition surface before nationals. But she hit, nabbed herself a score of 15 and set herself apart from the pack of gymnasts vying for the non–Simone Biles, non–Shilese Jones Olympic spots.

I love Blakely’s gymnastics, but her falls on beam at worlds the past two years had me questioning her readiness for the Olympic process. I’m definitely slotting her in now, though, and I look forward to seeing her vault again at trials and perhaps punch a ticket to Paris in the process. 

I am keeping my commentary on nationals pretty short and sweet because it’s all the gymternet has spoken of this week; it’s hard to come in a week later with something new to say. But I do think Blakely’s emergence as a vault powerhouse qualifies as the major surprise from the meet. My other observation is that I do not envy the people putting this Olympic team together, particularly for those fourth and fifth team spots. So many gymnasts have the potential to shine in those spots, and I hope trials is more fun for it. 

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Other gym news

Spencer was back live-blogging nationals on The Balance Beam Situation this week! Check out Day 1 and Day 2. He also said on GymCastic that he is between his abdominal surgery and the beginning of chemo; we wish him all the best. 

Lauren at The Gymternet liveblogged Day 2 of nationals. 

College Gym News gave us the lowdown on its recruit rankings, as well as a look at some recruits whose unique skills should get them noticed. Plus,, which gymnasts made a case for themselves at nationals, a forthcoming judgment day for NCAA judges (!) and the breaking coaching news of the week: Jen Llewellyn’s appointment as head coach at Iowa

Now that we have the scores from nationals, go play with the Washington Post’s gymnastics team selector again! 

Charlotte Booth’s officially British, at least for purposes of international elite gymnastics. 

Raena Worley will be an assistant coach at Kentucky

Jay Clark told a New Orleans paper that Konnor McClain is on track to return to LSU competition come the season. 

We’ve seen many elite retirement announcements this week from athletes who did not make the trials roster and who are headed to the NCAA. 

Lexi Zeiss:

Addison Fatta:

Katelyn Jong:

And from NCAA …

Kiya Johnson: 

Talia Folino:

Syd Morris:

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Five at The IX: Simone Biles via GymCastic

Simone Biles, in a black jacket and tan shirt at a press conference with a USA Gymnastics background.

After Simone Biles casually won her ninth national championship last weekend and swept all four events, she gave a press conference during which she discussed the emotional support she provided to Olympic teammate Suni Lee after Lee crashed a vault on the second day of nationals (in a way eerily reminiscent of Biles’ own crash at the Tokyo Olympics). We stan our queen.

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Written by Lela Moore