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Pint-Sized Gymnast Wows at U.S. Championships

Simone Biles competes on the vault during the U.S. women's national gymnastics championships.

By Will Graves

Simone Biles blew her first chance to show Martha Karolyi she could handle the big stage.

There was no way she was going to let a chance at redemption slip away.

The stunningly powerful 16-year-old soared to the top of the U.S. women’s gymnastics championships, posting a score of 60.500 to lead a field that includes Olympic gold medalists Kyla Ross.

Bounding across the arena with the kind of hops that would make LeBron James do a double-take, the 4-foot-8 spring-loaded Texan found a pretty simple way to avoid the jitters that led to a disastrous meet in Chicago last month.

Told by her more experienced teammates to just ignore all the noise that comes with moving up to the sport’s stratosphere, Biles took a deep breath and went back to work.

“It’s kind of easy because I block out my parents, my siblings,” Biles said, laughing.

Biles’ score certainly blocked out the bold-faced names behind her.

Ross and McKayla Maroney are considered the standardbearers of the women’s program while the rest of their Olympic gold-medal winning “Fierce Five” teammates slowly rebuild their programs after a lengthy break.

“She blows my mind with her stuff,” Maroney said. “She’s amazing.”

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