37-time world and Olympic medalist Simone Biles took first place at the Core Hydration Classic over the weekend, looking every bit the top contender she is. 

Earning an all-around score of 59.500, Biles also earned the highest scores in both the vault and floor exercises. She successfully incorporated the triple-twisting double salto into her floor routine for the first time since the qualifying round at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and picked up the highest score of the night — 15.600 — on vault with a Turchenko double pike.

"I was just happy to be back out there," Biles told NBCNews. "As long as we’re there cheering each other on and hoping for the best and having confidence in each other’s gymnastics, then it’s going to work."

Cementing her place as the nation’s second-best all-around gymnast was Shilese Jones, who finished the competition second in the all-around and won the uneven bars with a final score of 15.250.

Reigning all-around Olympic champion Suni Lee won the balance beam event. While she didn’t compete on uneven bars, Lee is aiming to compete in all four events at the 2024 Xfinity US Gymnastics Championships, which kicks off May 30th in Fort Worth.

"I think I’m starting to build a lot more confidence on beam," Lee told reporters after the meet. "I think it’s super important that we start feeling the nerves now because it’s only gonna get harder."

In a surprising turn, three-time Olympic gold medalist and 2012 all-around champion Gabby Douglas wound up withdrawing from the Core Hydration Classic after a rough start on the uneven bars. 

Douglas's first return to competition since the 2016 Olympics in Rio came three weeks ago at the American Classic in Katy, Texas. While she finished 10th in the all-around, she scored high enough in the vault and balance beam events to qualify for the US Championships.

"I have to give myself a little bit of grace," Douglas said after her American Classic appearance. "It ended rough for me in 2016, so I didn’t want to end on that note. I want to make sure I end on love and joy instead of hating something that I love."

While Biles's recent performance made her looked like a shoo-in for this summer's Olympics Games, four additional team members and two alternates are yet to be determined. 

Of course, there are some familiar faces still in the mix: Jade Carey, who was on Team USA in 2020, placed fourth overall at the Core Classic while medaling in individual events. Fellow 2020 Olympian Jordan Chiles placed third in the all-around. 

The US Olympic gymnastics roster will be determined at the Olympic Trials in late June, with athletes qualifying to compete at the Trials at the US Championships.

Simone Biles is officially back.

At the Core Hydration Classics in suburban Chicago on Saturday night, she looked as comfortable as she ever has on the mat. Competing in her first gymnastics event since the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Biles easily won the all-around title as well as the gold for vault, beam and floor. On the uneven bars, often considered her weakest event, she took second.

Between events, the four-time Olympic gold medalist danced with her teammates and did a synchronized celebration with Jordan Chiles to celebrate her vault. According to Biles, though, looks were deceiving.

“I thought I was going to s–t bricks! I was very nervous. So at least if it looked like I was having fun, that’s good. But I think after every routine, it got a little bit easier. And usually my power events, vault and floor, before I go in, I’m like, ‘OK, I know I’m gonna make these,'” Biles said.

“I think this was the complete opposite in trainings. I’ve been making all my bar sets, all my beam sets. So that’s kind of a complete 180 for me. So to get out there on floor and vault, I was like, ‘Ooh, how’s this gonna go?’ I’ve been making them, but not as confident. So getting back in that groove and just having fun and remembering that I’m here for myself.”

Finding confidence is a big part of the Classics. Biles wasn’t the only gymnast who used this event to find a way back to the floor before the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Suni Lee, Chiles and Jade Carey — all Olympic medalists who have moved on to NCAA competition — competed to rediscover some comfort at the elite level again. Leanne Wong, an alternate for the 2021 Olympics, has been competing at the college level, as well. She took second at Classics, as she vies for a spot on the United States’ 2024 Olympic team.

What happens next?

Gymnasts will head to San Jose for the U.S. Championships at the end of August. That event will not only include the gymnasts who posted qualifying scores from Classics. Shilese Jones, who helped the U.S. team win gold at the World Championships in 2022 while also taking silver in the all-around and uneven bars, will be competing at the U.S. Championships because of her accomplishments at Worlds.

What does this mean for Paris?

Technically, the Classics the year before the Olympics don’t mean anything when it comes to choosing who will compete for the U.S. in Paris. However, since it’s a qualifier for the U.S. Championships, it’s not an event gymnasts take lightly. It’s a chance for them to get judged on their routines and figure out what needs to be tweaked as they move forward in the Olympic cycle. If the Olympics are the peak of a mountain range, think of the Classics as the foothills.

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Joscelyn Roberson placed third in the all-around at the U.S. Classic on Saturday. (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Beyond the established names, who else should we look out for?

For gymnasts who have already won Olympic medals, the Classics were about finding their footing again and building confidence heading into the U.S. Championships and team selection camp for Worlds. For other gymnasts, this competition was about establishing themselves as a real threat to make the World Championship team and, eventually, the Olympic team.

Here are three American gymnasts to watch.

Joscelyn Roberson

When you see Roberson compete, Shawn Johnson’s powerful tumbling and vaults will come to mind. Roberson trains at the same gym as Biles and Chiles, and holds her own with Olympic teammates. She took third in the all-around on Saturday, and tied for second on floor, tied for third on beam and placed second on vault. Earlier this year, Roberson won medals at multiple international events. She’s committed to Arkansas for 2025, so she will continue to train with an eye on the Olympics.

Skye Blakeley

At just 18, Blakeley has an impressive resume. She was part of the gold-medal winning 2022 World Championships team, and she’s won medals at the Pan-American Championships. On Saturday, she tied for second on bars and third on beam. Though she’s committed to Florida, she is holding off on college to focus on Olympic training.

Kaliya Lincoln

The LSU-bound gymnast showed she has the talent to compete with the best the U.S. has to offer. On floor exercise and vault, Lincoln can fly while still keeping perfect form in the air. With extra training at LSU and WOGA, her home gym in Texas, Lincoln has the skills to make a run at the Olympic team.

Maggie Hendricks is a contributing writer for Just Women’s Sports. She also covers women’s sports for Bally Sports. Follow her on Twitter @maggiehendricks.

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — When Simone Biles was introduced to the crowd at the beginning of the Core Hydration Classic on Saturday night, she ran out, waved to the crowd, and then paused, looking around the floor exercise mat for some guidance. She wasn’t sure where she was supposed to stand as the rest of the competitors were announced. A fellow gymnast waved her over, Biles laughed, and she headed to the edge of the mat.

It was the last time she didn’t look at home on the gymnastics floor. Biles scored a 59.100 to win her first all-around competition since the 2021 Olympic Trials. Starting on the uneven bars, Biles scored a 14.000. Just before her dismount, Biles lost her form and had to muscle back into position before doing her full-twisting double back.

The break on bars was the biggest mistake Biles had on Saturday night. On balance beam and floor exercise, she was steady and aggressive, just as the four-time Olympic gold medalist has always been. For vault, Biles showed she was just as capable of doing the high-flying Yurchenko double pike as she was in 2021. Though she landed off-center, she scored a massive 15.400 thanks to the vault’s difficulty.

The sold-out NOW Arena in suburban Chicago erupted in cheers for every move Biles made, whether it was warming up a vault or dancing with her friend and teammate Jordan Chiles. They chanted her name as she spoke with the media, and stayed well after the meet was over to show their appreciation.

“I think what shocks me the most is, everyone’s so supportive, like in the crowd, all of the girls, all of the signs, like after everything that transpired in Tokyo, and obviously, you know, they ‘at me’ in all those tweets and stuff, so I get a lot of that stuff. But the amount of outpouring love and support that I had on Twitter, on Instagram, and in the arena was just really shocking,” she said.

“And surprising to me that they still have so much belief in me, they still love me, and it just makes my heart warm, because it’s nice to come out here and have all that support, especially in a time like this where I was, like really nervous to compete again. But everyone, I can’t ask for more.”

The Classics were Biles’ first competition back since she pulled out of the Olympic team competition with “twisties,” a type of mental block gymnasts sometimes deal with that prevents them from knowing where they are in the air.

Since then, she’s spoken out on the importance of mental health for athletes. In her personal life, Biles married Green Bay Packers safety Jonathan Owens. She returned to training in 2022. According to her coach Cecille Landi, Biles stepped up her training after the wedding this spring.

“I had dinner with her, and it was this year and she told me she really wanted to get a chance to do it. After that, I would say after the wedding. Once everything was over, then we saw a shift in her training and commitment to being back,” Landi said on Friday.

Competing at the Classics was Biles’ first step back on the road to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

With her win Saturday, she qualified for the U.S. championships in San Jose at the end of August. Then, the country’s top gymnasts will take part in a selection camp to decide who will represent the United States at the world championships in Antwerp in October. She joked when asked whether she’s thinking about her plans for the Olympics.

“Right now, I think I should just embrace what happened today. Be happy for me, for my teammates. We’ll go into championships in a couple of weeks and work on those tweaks that we had today, but I’m in a really good spot and who knows? I’m not gonna think so far ahead,” Biles said.

“It’s just like when you get married, they ask you when you’re having a baby. You come to Classics, and they’re asking you about the Olympics. I think we’re just trying to take it one step at a time.”

Biles wasn’t the only star to make a big step back to competition at Classics. Sunisa Lee, the 2021 Olympic All-Around champion, did the vault and beam. After Lee finished on the beam, her first event back at the elite level since dealing with a kidney condition, she hugged her trainer and sobbed. She said on Friday that her biggest goal was to qualify for the U.S. championships, and she did just that with a 14.500 on beam and a 13.500 on vault.

“I think it went really well tonight. I’m super proud of myself for pushing. There were times when thought I wouldn’t be able to do this, but I definitely got over the fear and the doubt. I thought, I’m just going to put myself on the floor, let myself have fun. I think that’s exactly what I did,” Lee said after the meet.

Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles, 2021 Olympians, already qualified for the U.S. championships because they were on the 2022 world championship team that won gold. Still, they competed at Classics to help prepare them for the elite season. Since the Olympics, both have been competing at the college level, with Carey at Oregon State and Chiles at UCLA. Carey scored a 13.900 on beam, and Chiles scored a 13.900 on bars and 12.800 on beam.

Maggie Hendricks is a contributing writer for Just Women’s Sports. She also covers women’s sports for Bally Sports. Follow her on Twitter @maggiehendricks.

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sunisa Lee walked out to the floor for podium training for the Core Hydration Classic on Friday carrying a giant backpack. Before she could take too many steps towards the competition areas, she was greeted by Jordan Chiles, her 2021 Olympic teammate, with a giant hug. Chiles’ infectious enthusiasm was apparent as she ran up to Lee, who is taking baby steps back to the sport where she won Olympic all-around gold in Tokyo.

“[It felt] so good. Jordan is one of the closest people to me. So to see her back out here and to just be back out and competing with her is so fun,” Lee said during training for the U.S. Classic, where many Team USA hopefuls are competing a year before the 2024 Olympics. That group includes Simone Biles, who is returning to the mat for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, where she sat out of multiple events while dealing with the “twisties.”

The last time casual Olympic fans saw Lee, she was celebrating a breakout performance in 2021. She won gold in the all-around, helped the U.S team win silver and took bronze on the uneven bars. Like Biles and Nastia Liukin, Lee competed on “Dancing with the Stars,” where she finished fifth.

From there, Lee headed to Auburn to compete for the Tigers, as part of the first crop of Olympic athletes who were able to take advantage of NIL rules that allowed her to earn money after the Olympics and still compete in college.

Lee excelled in her first season at Auburn, drawing record crowds to their meets in 2022. She won an NCAA title on balance beam and took second in the all-around. NCAA gymnastics tends to focus more on the team outcomes. And between conference events and dual meets, collegiate gymnasts just compete more, which

“[NCAAs] definitely helped my consistency and a lot of like the mental side, because I feel like today I was coming in and I was really happy,” Lee said. “But when I got back up on the podium, and I was like worked up at first and then I was pretty calm, like recalling back to college, every single day, doing the same elements. And I’ve done this so many times.”

But throughout the 2023 season, Lee missed competitions due to a kidney condition. She announced that the ‘23 season would be her final one in college due to health issues, but she wasn’t moving on from her goal of getting back to the Olympics.

This weekend in Chicago, Lee is working to get back to elite form, even as she deals with a kidney condition that can hamper her training.

“My main goal was to just come here and compete,” Lee said. “I’m not worrying about winning or placing or anything. I just wanted to get back out here. I’m not doing full difficulty at all. I’m not competing floor [exercise].”

During podium training on Friday, Lee looked steady as she trained her balance beam, vault and uneven bars routines. The routines were on the easier side of what she can accomplish, but going viral for her latest skill isn’t the point. Showing the gymnastics world that she is progressing is.

As Lee works with doctors to control her kidney condition, she has to deal with a scaled-back training schedule. Lee told the Olympic Channel that she sometimes wakes up with fingers so swollen that she can’t put on the grips she needs to wear for the uneven bars.

“I am still kind of in and out of the gym. I don’t train as much as I used to. And I definitely don’t take as much time as I like, but whenever I’m having a really good day, I try and take advantage of that and do as much as I can,” Lee said. “Other days, I just work more basics, turns or dance elements because those are important, too.”

When her kidney condition started affecting her in January, Lee was on the exact path she wanted to be on to make it to Paris for the Olympics. Getting healthy enough to try out some of those new skills is part of why she is still pushing for Paris.

“I feel like there’s just a lot more in me. Before all of the diagnoses and all of that stuff, I was doing really good. I feel like I was coming up with new combinations, new skills, like it would have been really cool,” she said. “But that’s definitely what inspired me because I already know that I can do it. So if I just get myself back to that pace, I’ll be right on to the Olympics hopefully.”

Competing at the Classic is the first step that Lee, Chiles, Biles and all of the 2024 Olympic hopefuls will take. This event will qualify gymnasts to the U.S. Championships in San Jose in late August. From there, the top gymnasts will head to a selection camp where the world championship team will be chosen for the event in Belgium in early October.

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Simone Biles returns to competition this weekend for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics. (Jon Durr/USA TODAY Sports)

For Lee, competing at the Classic is not just a step toward the Olympics, but that step she needs to take to show herself she can compete again, even if she’s not earning the highest scores.

“I’m not gonna be the perfectionist that I was before. It’s just gonna be really hard because, like, a lot of people have that pressure. But, and I think this time, it’s more like I’m coming back, but I also have the [Olympic] title. That kind of gets me a little bit worked up, but ever since I’ve gotten here, I’m just calming myself down. And I’m like, ‘Don’t put any pressure on yourself because we know that you’re not ready.’

“And like, I know what I’m capable of doing right now and it’s not gonna be like what I’m going to do. So I’m just giving myself time.”

Maggie Hendricks is a contributing writer for Just Women’s Sports. She also covers women’s sports for Bally Sports. Follow her on Twitter @maggiehendricks.

The NCAA’s ruling allowing students to profit off their name, image, and likeness (NIL) has opened up a lucrative new world for college athletes. As brands and agencies move to embrace NIL opportunities, several female athletes are well-positioned to take advantage of the new policy.

These are the Top 10 in line for a payday:

1. Paige Bueckers, University of Connecticut

@paigebueckers

Paige Bueckers has been making headlines since high school, and after a dominant freshman year at UConn, the basketball star is now a household name. With 906,000 followers on Instagram and a strong national profile boosted by a memorable appearance at the ESPYs, Bueckers is one of the most popular college athletes in America today. Singing with Wassermann Media Group, a Los Angeles-based sports marketing and talent company, Bueckers is likely to leverage her platform for lucrative NIL deals, with some estimates predicting the basketball star could make $1 million a year in partnerships and endorsements.

2. Suni Lee, Auburn University

@sunisalee

Suni Lee was the breakout star of the Tokyo Olympics after winning individual gold in women’s gymnastics and capturing the world’s attention. Lee’s Olympic success earned her a spot competing on this season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, only elevating her growing profile. Now at the Auburn University, Lee is set to benefit the most from NIL deals due to her rising fame (and 1.6 million Instagram followers).

3. Hailey Van Lith, University of Louisville

@haileyvanlith

Haley Van Lith had a strong debut season for Louisville, leading the women’s basketball team to an Elite Eight appearance and the ACC Championship game while earning a spot on the ACC All-Freshman Team. The breakout Louisville star also boasts a sizeable social media following, including 703,000 fans on Instagram, making her a true beneficiary of NIL changes. In August, Lith signed with Octagon, a talent management agency, embracing the potential for forthcoming partnerships and endorsements.

4. Cameron Brink, Stanford University

@cameronbrink22

Cameron Brink is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable athletes in college basketball after helping Stanford take home the NCAA 2021 Women’s Basketball Championship in her freshman year. Off the court, Brink is a savvy social media influencer, with 160,000 followers on Instagram and a series of brand deals. The Stanford star is among a growing group of young athletes to sign with Wasserman, adding to her NIL earnings potential.

5. Sarah Fuller, Vanderbilt University

@sarah_f27

Last year, Sarah Fuller made NCAA football history, becoming the first woman to play and score in a Power Five football game as a kicker for the Vanderbilt University football team. She’s a uniquely marketable talent who has also signed with Wasserman, leveraging her 146,000 Instagram followers. She currently plays goalkeeper for North Texas as a graduate soccer transfer.

6. Sedona Prince, Oregon University

@sedona._

Sedona Prince is not afraid to speak up. Last year, Oregon’s power-forward and center took the sports world by storm after highlighting the weight room disparities between the women’s and men’s 2021 NCAA basketball tournaments. Now, the basketball star boasts a loyal social media following on both Instagram and TikTok, making Prince one of college’s most marketable athletes.

7. Haley Jones, Stanford University

@haley.jonesss

Haley Jones is one of the most talented college basketball players on the court today, having led Stanford to a 2021 NCAA Championship while being named the MOP of the Final Four. Her impressive run to a national title catapulted Jones to prominence, with the basketball star throwing out the first pitch at a San Francisco Giants game over the summer. Jones’s on-court success, combined with her charisma off the court, makes her a compelling and viable college sports figure.

8. Caitlin Clark, University of Iowa

@caitlinclark22

Caitlin Clark is lighting up the court for Iowa basketball and Team USA, leading the U.S. Under-19 squad to a gold medal in the FIBA World Cup in August. As one of college basketball’s top talents and scorers, Clark will likely be a magnet for NIL deals, something the Iowa star has expressed interest in. “As a female college athlete, valuable opportunities could come in our college career that may not be given at a professional level, especially with the support of female athletics we have here in the state of Iowa.”

9. Zia Cooke, University of South Carolina

@z.loading_

University of South Carolina basketball guard Zia Cooke is one of the first athletes to take advantage of the NIL rulings, inking a deal with Bojangles and putting on a for-profit basketball camp in her hometown of Toledo, OH. With 196,000 followers on Instagram, Cooke’s NIL profile is likely to continue to grow.

10. Kaila Novak, UCLA

@kailanovak_

Kaila Novak, the UCLA soccer star, had a breakout 2020 season, earning her stripes as a Pac-12 All-Freshman honoree. The sophomore also has a significant social media following, including 131,000 followers on Instagram, where she promotes specific brands, including nate, a shopping app.