ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Simone Biles led from the start in a record-setting win Saturday at the American Cup in her first competition since taking a second straight world all-around title last year.
The 4-foot-8 dynamo was the star of the first gymnastics event in the huge $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys, about 230 miles from where she lives and trains in the Houston suburbs.
Her big grins were easy to see on the giant video board that offered the crowd a life-sized view of the gymnasts about 50 feet above where they were competing.
Two-time U.S. men’s champion Sam Mikulak fell off the pommel horse, the second event, and finished fourth. Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine was the men’s winner, and Mikulak’s teammate Donnell Whittenburg was third.
Biles flashed a wide grin after nailing her landing on an opening vault, bringing another cheer from what amounted to a hometown crowd that included a couple of hundred supporters from near her training home in Spring, Texas.
It was the 17-year-old’s first event since darting off the first-place podium after she was spooked by a bee in Nanning, China, at last year’s world championships. She’s set to go for a third straight world title in October in Glasgow, Scotland, but will first compete in the U.S. event in June in Greensboro, North Carolina.
There was little doubt Biles would join previous American Cup winners such as Olympic all-around gold medalists Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin, who was the unofficial host of this event in the area where she trained and still lives.
After a solid routine on uneven bars and a slight bobble on beam, a strong routine on floor exercise finished off a record American Cup margin of victory at 4.467 points under a scoring system that was adopted in 2006.
She had the highest score on each event for 62.299 points to 57.832 for MyKayla Skinner of the United States. Biles beat the previous record margin by more than two points.
Whittenburg of the U.S. led the men’s field for most of the day, but Verniaiev overtook him in the final event with a strong showing on high bar. Verniaiev scored 90.597, and Whittenburg slipped to third at 89.932 behind Japan’s Ryohei Kato (90.098).
NOTES: Jordyn Wieber, the 2011 world all-around champion and a member of the “Fierce Five” U.S. team that won gold in London, announced her retirement Friday. Wieber, a native of DeWitt, Michigan, entered the 2012 games as one of the favorites but did not qualify for the all-around finals. Her coach later revealed she had been competing with a stress fracture in her leg. The 19-year-old is a sophomore at UCLA.
This article was written by Schuyler Dixon from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.