Simone Biles says she performed difficult vault routine ‘because I can’

"I was just thinking, do it like training. Don't try to like overdo anything" the Olympic gymnast said of her record-breaking Yurchenko

Olympic champion Simone Biles made history on Saturday when she participated in the U.S. Classic in Indianapolis and performed the Yurchenko Double Pike – a gymnastic vault that has never been landed by a woman in competition.

Read More: Simone Biles lands Yurchenko double pike during U.S. Classic

theGrio previously reported that the last time Biles, 24, competed was at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany where she won her fifth world all-around title. Following that feat and the postponement of the 2020 Olympics, Biles used her extra time to practice the move, according to ESPN

The judges scoring Biles on Saturday were not impressed with her Black Girl Magic. Per the New York Times, they gave the decorated gymnast a provisional scoring value of 6.6, similar to what she received in the past for other vaults, the report states.
Simone Biles during the 2021 GK U.S. Classic gymnastics competition at the Indiana Convention Center on May 22, 2021, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Naturally, while Biles couldn’t express her frustration with this score in the moment and risk being penalized, her spirit was certainly serving up plenty of side up over the points. 

“I feel like now we just have to get what we get because there’s no point in putting up a fight because they’re not going to reward it,” she said of judges and the International Gymnastics Federation. “So we just have to take it and be quiet.” 

Biles, the defending Olympic champion in the all-around, said she would continue doing her difficult and distinctive moves during competition “because I can,” she told reporters.

Throughout 2020, Biles had been ambiguous about whether she would perform the move in competition, at times previewing her ability to do it to the world and at others suggesting it was too risky. 

“In gymnastics, almost everything has been done so when you push boundaries there is a risk factor — risk vs reward,” she said last March. “Gymnastics can be a dangerous sport so you have to be smart,” she told PEOPLE in 2020. 

The Yurchenko Double Pike consists of a round-off onto a springboard, a back handspring onto the vaulting table, and flips into the air, NBC Sports explains. The maneuvers are named for trailblazing Russian gymnast, Natalia Yurchenko. On Saturday, Biles took the Yurchenko to the next level by adding an extra flip that historically, has only been performed by men. 

She was seen practicing the Yurchenko double pike during a training session on Friday.  On Saturday, she earned a total score of 16.1 for her breathtaking efforts during the competition.

“I was just thinking, do it like training. Don’t try to like overdo anything because I have a tendency, as soon as I raise my hand to overpower things and I did a little bit, but I was still on my feet,” Biles said following the competition on Saturday. “It’s a new vault and I’m proud of how today went even though it was a little bit rough and uncharacteristic but it was okay.”

Back in March, Biles revealed that she was considering performing the Yurchenko double pike at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

“There haven’t been too many times where I was like, ‘Oh, that was really scary. Maybe we shouldn’t do that,'” Biles said during an interview with Texas Monthly in March. “It’s actually been like, ‘Wow, this is feasible, we can do this.'”

2021 GK U.S. Classic
Simone Biles competes in her floor routine during the 2021 GK U.S. Classic gymnastics on May 22, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

“I feel like it might be a better bet to do it in the all-around final because you do get that one-touch warm up, rather than vault finals where you don’t. I feel like we just have to go in and weigh the options, see what’s smart, get a feel of the vault.”

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association, an organization representing approximately 6,000 Japanese doctors, has called for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We strongly request that the authorities convince the IOC (International Olympic Committee) that holding the Olympics is difficult and obtain its decision to cancel the Games,” the group said in a May 14 open letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Read More: Simone Biles drops Nike for female-focused athletic company Athleta

They noted that the city’s hospitals have reached max capacity and the Olympics could lead to a surge of coronavirus infections, per CBS News.

theGrio’s Sytonia Reid contributed to this report.

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