Simone Biles landed a nearly impossible vault during practice for the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday as she looks to add to her already legendary gymnastics career.
Footage of the four-time Olympic gold medalist shows the 24-year-old Ohio native nearly nailing a Yurchenko double pike vault, one of the sport’s most difficult moves.
The breathtaking move requires Biles to perform a backflip off the vault, then complete two full rotations in the pike position.
Her practice run carried so much momentum that when she landed on the mat, she took just the tiniest of steps backwards to maintain her balance.
Biles dashes to the vault as she prepares to perform the risky Yurchenko double pike vault during practice for the Tokyo Olympic Games
The Yurchenko double-pike vault, which has only previously been done in international competition by men — will become the latest to bear her name in the sport’s Code of Points if she’s able to land it in Japan
The move begins with a single flip, but Biles chose to add an extra flip to the vault in order to increase the level of difficulty,
Despite a taking two steps back, she nails the move
A Yurchenko — named after Natalia Yurchenko, a Russian gymnast who first performed the skill in the early 1980s — begins with a roundoff onto the springboard, then a back handspring onto the vault, followed by a backflip with legs straight. Biles increased the difficulty by doing a double pike.
Biles could perform the move when the women’s competition begins Saturday. If she lands the maneuver, it will be the fifth technique named The Biles. She already has moves associated with her on the vault, balance beam and floor exercise.
The gymnast, who is also head-over-heels in love with NFL player Jonathan Owens, made history in May when she successfully landed the double Yurchenko, hence The Biles, during the U.S. Classic in Indianapolis.
Before then, no other female athlete had ever performed the move in a competition. Only a handful of men have even tried a double Yurchenko.
Biles first completed a successful Yurchenko double-pike vault in May. She’s shown here running up to the vault
Up and at ’em: She then performs a round-off onto the springboard, which leads into a back handspring onto the vault itself, before she flips backwards twice while in the pike position
Sky-high: Simone’s vault sees her flying into the air above the table, giving her ample time to complete the two flips before spotting the ground for her landing
Near-perfect: Simone landed the vault with apparent ease, taking just one tiny step backwards to maintain her balance
At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Biles won gold in the vault after sticking a two-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko as one of her two moves. She also won gold medals in the all-around, floor and as a member of the U.S.-winning team competition.
She also took a bronze on the balance beam in Rio and has a total of 30 Olympics and World Championship medals.
Ahead of the 2021 Games, she has taken things one step further on the vault by adding two flips – which hugely increases the difficulty, as well as the risk.
If a vaulter doesn’t rotate enough during the double flip, it could result in head or neck injuries.
Biles’s coach, Laurent Landi, told NBC that Biles might not actually use the move in the single’s competition because of how risky it is.
‘If she really wants to do it, she’s going to have to beg me,’ Landi said. ‘People seem to forget that it’s a very, very dangerous skill.’
Landi, did, however, say it would be ‘smart thinking’ for Biles to break out the move during the finals of the team competitions.
The gymnastics events kickoff with Saturday’s qualifying and run through Aug. 3.
US gymnasts Jordan Chiles (left) and Simone Biles pose after a training session at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo
Hilarious: Biles noted that Owens would say she ‘slid into his DMS’ when they first met
Look of love: Biles and Owens, who met during the pandemic, have been together for over a year
Support system: Owens has been by Biles’s side as she trained for the Tokyo Olympics
About Simon Biles
- Born on March 14, 1997, in Columbus, Ohio
- Competed for U.S. Team at the 2016 Rio Olympics
- Won four gold medals from team, all-around, vault and floor
- She is the second-oldest member of this year’s U.S. Olympic gymnastics team
- Biles has 19 gold medals from five World Championship appearances
- She’s won the all-around and floor exercise every year she’s participated since 2013
- She has four gymnastics moves named after her, two on the floor, one on the beam and one on the vault